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Loan program helps owners keep their homes
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If you’re having trouble keeping up with your mortgage payments, the Home Affordable Modification Program might be able to help.
HAMP was designed to help millions of homeowners keep their homes by lowering mortgage payments. Billions of dollars were earmarked and nearly 40 “mortgage servicer” companies, or middlemen, signed up to participate. They cover the vast majority of mortgage loans in the country.
However, HAMP, which was started in March, hasn’t made much progress in helping homeowners. The Treasury Department’s first monthly report on the program showed that only a small percent of eligible homeowners have had any relief.
Part of the blame for the poor showing in modifying those millions of eligible loans falls on the homeowners. Delays in taking action, wishful thinking, lack of knowledge about the programs and frustration over the many required steps have kept too many homeowners from applying.
Here are some of the requirements:
• Your existing loan must have been taken out prior to Jan. 1, 2009.
• You could be eligible for loan modification if your mortgage payment (including principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues) is more than 31 percent of your gross monthly income.
• You must live in the home as your principal place of residence.
• You must pass a hardship test and indicate why you need help.
You’ll next need to complete a trial modification: prove that you can make the new reduced payments for three months. If you’re in default or bankruptcy, or even if foreclosure has been started, you likely can be helped, as the foreclosure will be suspended during the trial modification.
For more information, go online to the Making Home Affordable site []. It also has a list of mortgage servicers for the Home Affordable Modification program. Check to see if yours is on the list.
If you need help, it’s there. The process can be irritating and long, but in the end you could keep your house and enjoy a stable interest rate.
If you’ve missed one or more payments, but don’t qualify for HAMP, you can talk for free to a HUD counselor at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) to explore your other options. If a company insists that you pay a fee for loan modification counseling, it could be a scam.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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