Last Updated Apr 26, 2011 5:10 PM EDT
I've been writing about loan modifications for a while now, and I've learned a few things about what works and what doesn't in this long, unnecessarily bureaucratic process. While I've gotten some great tips from experts (Thanks, OCC!), some of the best advice comes from people actually going through loan modifications who have left helpful comments on my Loan Modification blogs. (Click here to see a list of all the Loan Modification Hell blog posts.)
Who better to hear from, really, than homeowners in the trenches? Here are four things you can do to improve your odds of getting offered a permanent loan modification:
1. Create a Paper TrailKeep track of every phone call, letter, email, etc. that you've had regarding your loan modification application. It can be an electronic (I think this is best, so you don't worry about losing it) or written paper trail, but just keep track of every detail (including getting the name and employee number and office location for everyone you speak with when you call your lender or loan servicer).
Here's my best tip: Knowing exactly who you've spoken with, when you had the conversation (date and time), what was said and/or promised, and how often you had these conversations can be a huge weapon in your arsenal.
StillfightinginFL said he and his spouse have 10 inches of proof and documentation. From what I've heard, that's not unusual.
2. Don't Accept Bad Customer ServiceWhat if the person you talk to at your lenders toll-free help line is rude, incompetent or obnoxious?
Here's my best tip: Once you get the person's name, location and employee ID, and document the bad customer service behavior, hang up and call back. Hopefully you'll get someone more knowledgeable, sympathetic, smart, communicative and better trained.
3. File a Complaint with the OCC.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) oversees federally-chartered, national banks.
I've heard from a lot of homeowners who are finding success at the OCC's HelpWithMyBank.gov site.
"Everyone needs to fight to the bitter end!...Another complaint to the OCC and a letter from our Senator have been sent to the lender, and yes they have taken notice."jknippel had great luck after filing with the OCC:
"I have to tell you I complained to the OCC and no kidding within 15 days of doing so we finally received OUR singed copy of the final modification agreement!"And this just came in from Larry last week:
I believe that one way or another I owe you a huge debt of gratitude. After discovering your amazing "loan modification hell" website and postings on 10-25-2010, I immediately filed a complaint against BofA with the OCC. I sent you the particulars as requested. Much to my shock and amazement, I was contacted only 3 days later by a most cordial and friendly woman from the Bank's Office of the CEO and President. After giving her a recap of the past 18 months of stonewalling by the bank, she assured me that she would get to the bottom of things and take action. All she asked for was to give her a few days to look into the matter. I was in fact almost speechless and near tears. I have to assume that you did as you said and passed along my information to somebody higher up at the OCC. Whether or not you did, your writings at least inspired me as well as empowered me and for this I am truly thankful. Regardless of the outcome, at least I feel that this problem will finally get some resolution and I will no longer be in the bizarre state of limbo dubbed "home loan modification hell." I will keep you apprised when further news develops. All my best to you and your family.Here's my best tip: I've made this offer to everyone: If you get rejected for your loan modification, file a complaint with the OCC's HelpWithMyBank.gov website. Then, once you get your case number, send it to me along with your complete contact information, and I'll forward it to the OCC so your complaint won't slip through the cracks.
If you haven't heard back, you can easily check on your complaint status here. If you still don't get a loan modification, you can file an appeal with the OCC and the OCC will have your lender take yet another look at the case.
4. Reach OutKeep checking in with other homeowners struggling with loan modifications. You're all walking down the same road. Hearing what's working for someone else might help you develop new strategies that will get your loan modification application approved.
Here's my best tip: Check in with my Loan Modification Hell series to get updates and advice. I have one blog with tips from my contact at the OCC ("New Solutions to Avoid Losing Your Home"). One of the blogs deals specifically with loan modification lawsuits and another has over 818 comments.
These blogs provide tips and a network of hundreds of other other people going through the same thing you are, and talking to them can be helpful, even if you're just venting to someone else in the trenches with you.
Every once in a while I hear of a success story and I'll post the details on the site (or you can post them yourself). If you get your loan mod, please email me, or update this blog post, with your information.
It helps everyone to find out that someone has crossed the finished line. I hope you'll be next.
Read More About Loan Modification:
- Loan Modification Hell: Join The Club
- Want a Loan Modification? The New Rules for Trial Loan Modifications Start June 1, 2010
- Loan Modification Hell Horror Stories
- Loan Modification Hell: Income Requirements for New HAMP Rules
- Loan Modification Hell: The Horror Stories Continue
- Gulf Coast Homeowners Get Relief From Foreclosures and Mortgage Payments
- Strategic Defaults Increasing As Homeowners Choose Not To Pay Their Mortgage
- Foreclosure Coming? Perhaps You Should Bulldoze Your House
- Loan Modification Hell Lawsuits
- Loan Modification Hell: New Solutions to Avoid Losing Your Home
- Underwater? Maybe You Should Walk Away From Your Home
- Are You in Loan Modification Hell? Maybe For Not Much Longer
- Are You Getting Screwed By Your Lender?
- Loan Modification Success Story: Filing a Complaint With the OCC Can Help
- Loan Modification Hell: Should The Government Get a Failing Grade?
- Loan Modification Hell: 50,000 Borrowers Could Lose Their Temporary Loan Modifications
- Loan Modification Scams: Don't Pay These People For Help - You Won't Get It
- Loan Modification Hell: How To Find Your Mortgage Lender or Bank CEO
- Loan Modification Hell? Not For This Homeowner
- Loan Modification Hell? Earned Income Tax Credit Cash Might Help
- Loan Modification Hell: 98 Loan Mods Done, 340,000 (or More) to Go
- Calculating the Net Present Value (NPV) of a Foreclosure vs. a Loan Modification
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 ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.