FiveCAP to offer foreclosure counseling help

LAKE COUNTY - With Michigan ranking seventh in the nation for the number of foreclosures, many area residents are facing the reality of losing their homes.

FiveCAP, Inc. offers counseling services for those facing delinquency or foreclosure. The agency’s certified foreclosure intervention counselors are available to sit down with homeowners and begin by assembling the pieces of the resident’s financial history.

“It’s not one size fits all. It’s very specific to the homeowner, to the type of mortgage, to the type of lender and servicer and even how old your mortgage is, what your circumstance of hardship is and what your current means of income is,” said FiveCAP foreclosure prevention counselor Jan Lieby.

There are different levels of delinquency, and the homeowner’s circumstances and how far they’ve fallen behind factor into the action the counselor takes. Sometimes, reduced payments can be negotiated with the lender, but only if there is sufficient evidence the homeowner will be able to make the payments.

FiveCAP counselors also evaluate if homeowners meet the requirements for assistance programs through the state and federal government. To help alleviate their expenses, residents are generally referred to other programs offered by FiveCAP, such as emergency utility payment assistance.

Often it takes a collaborative effort to get delinquent homeowners caught up on what they owe.

“There’s no complete bailout funding,” Lieby said. “Homeowners have to do a combined effort with FiveCAP and other agencies that have funding. We’ve had, at times, five different sources of money coming together to get a person back on track, including their personal finances or their church.”

Those who have been notified they are already in foreclosure can enter a 90-day pre-foreclosure negotiation period by contacting a foreclosure intervention counselor.

At that point, the counselor leads the resident in a mini budget seminar, pulls a credit report, evaluates what other debts they’ve accumulated and identifies the reason for the hardship. After reviewing the total picture, the counselor and the homeowner assess the core issue and see if it can be remedied.

If a reduced payment is not an option and the homeowner cannot come up with the amount needed to pay off the loan, their options become limited. They can deed the home over to the lender, ask for a short sale, or let the foreclosure go through.

Foreclosure is daunting and FiveCAP counselors help homeowners navigate the process. Sometimes it involves accepting that there is nothing more that can be done to save the home, at which time the counselor begins assisting residents with the transition to the next phase of their lives by developing a relocation plan.

Though the results of foreclosure intervention are mixed, there have been success stories from the program.

“We’ve had some good success working on a mortgage modification,” Lieby said.

For more information on foreclosure counseling, contact Lieby at (231) 757-3785 or the local FiveCAP office at 2476 West 44th St., in Baldwin, 745-4617.