This is such a frightening time for thousands of people faced with losing their homes to foreclosure. The minute you get a publicly-recorded default notice the whole world takes note and begins a barrage of phone calls and mail from people who want to "help you."
There are plenty of nonprofit loan counseling firms out there who can act as a go-between with you and your lender. When people call me with a tale of trouble I almost always send them to one of these places and say: "It's no cost, they won't try to sell you anything, this is what they do."
So it's interesting to me that for the first time in this housing downturn somebody left me a card in the door telling me "Loan Modification is the Answer." Obviously, this company, ShortRefiNow.com of Roseville is blanketing hard hit suburban areas now, offering help.
It's citing something called the Emergency Loan Modification Act of 2008, which appears to me to be a bill that's been introduced in Congress, but not passed.
A day or two later I get a call from the Sacramento branch of the Mortgage Modification Center, looking for publicity. I asked what it charges people who get a loan modification through them and the rep said $3,995. It doesn't charge if it can't get the deal done.
Frankly, I do not know if these businesses are helpful or even very legitimate, considering that nonprofits constantly stress that they do this for free. And frankly, I still keep hearing, despite all the claims to the contrary that lenders are doing as few loan modifications as possible - and that foreclosure is still the leading outcome of a mortgage default.
Anyone have thoughts on these for-hire modification businesses? I confess to some skepticism here. Maybe it's unwarranted. Anyone have experience with these places?
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at email@example.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.