Bad Credit Stains

No one can legally remove current, accurate negative information from your credit report, not OxiClean, not Kaboom, not even a credit repair service.  Credit repair services cannot erase bankruptcies, judgments, liens, or bad loans, nor can they create a new identity legally.  So what are you going to do to improve your credit? If you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit score on your own.  The basics include: Pay your bills on time every time No new credit – do not open new credit accounts or take out new loans Pay down large balances Make a budget and stick to it – you can use the free online budget provided by the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-1020-make-budget-worksheet.pdf Alternatively, there are local credit counseling programs that will review the problems on your credit report and will help you make a plan to fix those issues.  Visit the St. Johns County Housing and Community Services website at http://www.sjcfl.us (click on “Housing & Community Services”) and the St. Johns Housing Partnership website at http://sjhp.org for more information.     Read More

Foreclosure Sale – Not the Only Outcome to Missed Mortgage Payments

The average home foreclosure in St. Johns County takes six to eight months (according to St. Johns Housing Partnership)…but it does not have to.  Just because a homeowner is facing foreclosure does not mean a foreclosure sale is the only possible outcome.  There may be alternatives available to the homeowner, and the faster a homeowner acts, the better chance they have of keeping their home. Sometimes just knowing the steps of the process may give the homeowner stress relief.  Understanding the process, and being able to make informed decisions about an outcome reduces the element of the unknown.  St. Johns Housing Partnership has an online presentation on the basics of home foreclosure at http://www.sjhp.org/what-we-do/keep/foreclosure-process-in-st-johns-county. No one should go through foreclosure alone.  While a foreclosure alternative may be available, the homeowner may need a third-party professional involved in order to complete a resolution.  A HUD Certified Counselor or an attorney may be needed to help the homeowner pursue and ending that brings them the best benefit.  Furthermore, that professional can help the homeowner navigate the process and give more specific information regarding options at each choice point.   Read More

Super Bowl & the Hardest Hit Fund

About 14 million people nationwide will call in a ‘Super Bowl sick day’ today.  Even St. Johns County schools have made it a holiday.  But if you are already unemployed and struggling to pay your mortgage, you have a much bigger hangover.  For Florida residents who are unemployed or underemployed, the Hardest Hit Fund may be the headache medicine for their mortgage. The Hardest Hit Fund was an allocation of Federal money given to five states (Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, and Nevada) that had experienced excessive housing market depreciation.  The funds are designated to assist in foreclosure prevention, and targeted at those workers who are unemployed, underemployed, just returning to work, or recovering from underemployment.  The Hardest Hit Fund started in April 2011 statewide in Florida.  It offers foreclosure prevention through two programs: 1. Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP) will provide up to 12 months of payments (with a cap of $24,000) to the mortgage lender to assist unemployed or underemployed borrowers with their first mortgage until they can resume full payments on their own. In addition, up to $18,000 can be paid to help satisfy all or some of any past due amounts owed; this assistance will be paid […] Read More

Where Did You Leave Your Good Credit?

So you want to buy a house and find out your credit score is not what you need it to be.  Your credit score is either so low that you cannot get a home loan, or it is low enough to where the financing is going to really cost you.  Did you leave your good credit in your other pants?  There could be other places to check. Did you just buy something big?  Taking on new debt can reduce the credit you have available to buy something else.  If you just spent a lot on a car loan or student loan, creditors may wonder about your ability to make payments on another big loan, like a mortgage. Do you pay your bills on time?  Turns out this actually matters.  You may have to spend some months making payments on or before their due dates. Do you have large balances on your credit cards?  Even if you have not bought anything new recently, and you pay your credit card bill on time each month, if you have an outstanding balance, a creditor may be reluctant.  You may need to pay down your debt before a creditor will be willing to loan […] Read More

Your Credit and You

There are a lot of credit repair services “as seen on TV,” but if you can talk, text, and chew gum, you can fix your credit score on your own.  Some of the basics include pay your bills on time, pay down outstanding balances, stay away from new debt, and avoid credit repair scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently reported that consumers were scammed for hundreds of dollars each by a company called Southeast Trust, LLC.  Southeast used illegal robocallers to claim they were a non-profit group that could offer credit card interest rates as low as zero percent.  It was too good to be charity, and Southeast Trust was anything but “trustworthy.” Here are some of the red flags of credit repair scams noted by the FTC and others: Charges fees before your debts are settled Guarantees to make your unsecured debt go away Claims to be able to stop all debt collection calls and lawsuits Refuses to send you free information about its services unless you provide personal and financial information, like your credit card and bank account numbers Advises you to stop communicating with your creditors Claims to be a deity with the authority to forgive […] Read More

Hardest Hit Fund Targets the Unemployed & Underemployed

Are you an unemployed Florida homeowner or underemployed?  You may be eligible for mortgage relief through Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund. The Florida Hardest Hit Fund offers federal aid to pay the mortgage for a few months while an unemployed homeowner seeks employment.  This funding is locally administered through St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP).  To find out more about this fund and eligibility, you can visit https://www.flhardesthithelp.org/. Read More

Low Cost Legal Resources

The Sixth Amendment gives you a Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal defense.  But what if you are poor, elderly, disabled, and your landlord has locked you out?  Or you are facing home foreclosure and do not know what to do?  There are good legal resources in St. Johns County which may be able to help you in a civil matter at little or no cost to you.  These include the following resources: St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) SJHP is non-profit agency whose services are offered to the public regardless of income.  They work with borrowers living in million dollar homes as well as those eligible for Legal Aid.  Their HUD certified counselors are sensitive to what their clients are going through, and they are knowledgeable and experienced negotiating with lenders on a loan modification that works for everybody.  SJHP does a background check on their clients without waiting for the bank to do one.  They get good results because they do the homework ahead of time.  There is no way to predict how long a mortgage modification will take, but you have a better chance to a permanent solution with SJHP. To learn more about St. Johns […] Read More

Derby-Pie & Mortgage Modification

Derby-Pie got its name by putting different names into a hat, and then drawing one, similar to the way a bank seems to determine Net Present Value.  Net Present Value is an analysis the bank uses to determine if it is better for the bank to foreclose on a property or to modify the loan. The bank puts in the present value of the property, the mortgage debt, and the risk of the borrower’s re-default, but it is a secret recipe, like Derby-Pie.  It is not clear what the bank does with those numbers.  The ambiguity is what gives mortgage modifications their mythic proportions. To win the Kentucky Derby, it takes a lot of work and you may not make it to the finish line.  Similarly, getting a mortgage modification is no cakewalk.  However, our local St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) has had some success stories. SJHP is non-profit agency whose services are offered to the public regardless of income.  They are sensitive to what their clients are going through, and they are knowledgeable and experienced negotiating with lenders on a loan modification that works for everybody.  SJHP does a background check on their clients without waiting for the bank […] Read More

Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Aside from bodily harm to you and your family, what is a fate worse than home foreclosure?  Answer:  Foreclosure Rescue Scam.  In one minute of your time, the Federal Trade Commission can give you the basics of how to avoid such a catastrophe in a free online audio at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/media/audio-0037-foreclosure-rescue-scams. If you are facing foreclosure, there are choices.  In St. Johns County, St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP) has a variety of housing programs available and offers free counseling with HUD certified counselors. SJHP is non-profit agency whose services are offered to the public regardless of income.  They work with borrowers living in million dollar homes as well as those eligible for Legal Aid.  Their HUD certified counselors are sensitive to what their clients are going through, and they are knowledgeable and experienced negotiating with lenders.  To learn more about St. Johns Housing Partnership, contact them at (904) 819-1266 (www.sjhp.org ).   Read More

Good Partnership for Mortgage Modification – St. Johns Housing Partnership

A mortgage modification may be rarer than Bigfoot frosted in unicorn dust.  While there is no EASY way to get a mortgage modification, the less difficult way is to go through St. Johns Housing Partnership (SJHP). SJHP is non-profit agency whose services are offered to the public regardless of income.  They are sensitive to what their clients are going through, and they are knowledgeable and experienced negotiating with lenders on a loan modification that works for everybody.  SJHP does a background check on their clients without waiting for the bank to do one.  They get good results because they do the homework ahead of time.  There is no way to predict how long a mortgage modification will take, but you have a better chance to a permanent solution with SJHP. To learn more about St. Johns Housing Partnership, contact them at (904) 824-0902 (www.sjhp.org ). Mortgage modification is a very good idea in concept.  St. Johns Housing Partnership may be able to make it a reality, giving relief to local homeowners by negotiating monthly payments they can afford. http://staugustine.com/news/business/2014-02-02/st-johns-county-housing-partnership-provides-alternatives-foreclosure#.UvErbvldV2A     Read More