Study: Nearly 70 percent who sought counseling before becoming delinquent were current 18 months later
To which she added, "That indicates the need for people to get counseling as soon as possible. If that happens, counseling works."
Counseling succeeds because the people who seek out help are extremely serious about their situation and really need to find a solution. They appreciate the assistance because the financial process to rectify a tough situation can be daunting. If a third-party walks them through the process, gives them support, assistance and knowledge, there's a very good chance they'll find a way out of their economic dilemma.
There are two things that happen in counseling. First, a counselor looks at the total family situation. Then the counselor helps the homeowner come up with a plan.
In addition, the homeowner is encouraged to contact the lender with the counselor as the backup.
Kerstetter explained, "What we try to do once we determine the client's situation is intercede with the servicer and set up a loan modification, or another program that assists the consumer in staying in their homes."
NCLR's counseling can be broken into three sectors. First is pre-purchase counseling.
"Although there are low interest rates and the lowest prices ever for homes, we don't see our clientele taking advantage," NCLR's Aponte said.
Secondly, it's to get clients through the foreclosure process.
"There are all kinds of programs out there today," Aponte said. "Two of the bigger pieces now are forbearance, such as a 12-month program where you don't have to pay your mortgage if you are looking for a job, and principal reduction programs."
Thirdly, counseling is to make sure clients are part of the bank settlement process.
"These were settlements because the banks steered our community into higher-interest loans that resulted in foreclosures," Aponte said. "We want to use our network to reach those families and give them the compensation they deserve."
Aponte and Kerstetter strongly agree on one thing: For-pay counseling is not the way to go, but it's an uphill battle.
"It's difficult to comprehend that we are a free service," Aponte said. "Companies advertise they will charge $5,000 and guarantee a modification. No one can guarantee this. We have more information than these scam artists, but somehow they're marketing is more attractive and they are getting to our families faster than we are. It's frustrating."
Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on Amazon.com.
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