Fannie Mae Launches WaysHome - Will An Interactive Movie Help You Avoid Foreclosure?

Last Updated Apr 26, 2011 5:00 PM EDT

Fannie Mae launched WaysHome today. It's a free, interactive, online movie tool "designed to educate homeowners about their options to avoid foreclosure."

The site is based around an interactive move that allows you to choose your own path to avoiding foreclosure, but feels a little bit like a live-action Sims game.

Developed as part of Fannie Mae's Know Your Options, WaysHome educates distressed homeowners on the short- and long-term impact of their decisions.

Billed as an "interactive movie," users follow the story of one character and make decisions for them, all the while learning more about the answers they need for their personal situation.

Homeowners can immediately see the consequences of different actions and learn more about all of the options for avoiding foreclosure including repayment plans, forebearances, modifications, deeds-in-lieu, and short sales.

"It's a travesty when people lose their homes because they don't know or understand their options," said Fannie Mae Senior Vice President, Jeff Hayward. "Homeowners who are proactive about working with their mortgage company, housing counselors, or using consumer tools like WaysHome have a significantly better chance of finding a solution that allows them to avoid foreclosure."

To start WaysHome, users pick from three characters and make decisions that change their ability to avoid foreclosure:
Character #1: Richard Lane, a father of three who is delinquent on his mortgage and thinking about leaving his home;
Character #2: Jackie Williams, a single mother struggling to keep up with mortgage payments;

Character #3: Miguel Gonzalez, a homeowner who is underwater on his mortgage and thinking about refinancing.

All three characters from WaysHome live in the same make-up neighborhood, one that has been damaged by the foreclosure crisis, and represents common problems facing homeowners today.

Users make financial decisions as their character and watch as it plays out. If the decisions you make mean your character winds up in the worst case scenario (i.e. foreclosure), the movie takes you back to one of the bad decision you made and lets you try again.

Users can see what will happen if they choose some risky strategies like ignoring your mortgage company or trying an "avoid foreclosure" scam.

The video offers helpful tips, tools and links and seeing real people dealing with these tough choices allows for some pretty interesting teaching moments, including:

  • The best time to deal with financial issues is before trouble hits.
  • The sooner you call your mortgage company, the more options that will be available to you.
  • There is never a fee to get assistance or information from your mortgage company.
It's an entertaining way to brush up on your options if you aren't in trouble and if you really need help, the site offers a lot of great advice.

My biggest issue with the whole interactive movie (aside from the fact that Fannie Mae spent a bundle of taxpayer dollars to create it), is I wonder whether someone who is really in trouble will have the patience to get through the movie and understand how to apply the consequences to their own situation.

I suppose time will tell.

Will you play the online foreclosure game at WaysHome? If you do play it, please leave your comments about this cool tool on the blog.

More on MoneyWatch:

Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at, a community for real estate investors.
  • Ilyce Glink On Twitter»

    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.