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Three Million Mortgages Still Need to be Modified

What a great real estate panel KCBS just threw! In addition to getting me out to San Francisco (what a wonderful town, I can't ever visit enough) "Making Lemons into Lemonade: Practical Tools for the Current Real Estate Market" provided a great snapshot of current real estate problems and opportunities. The panel was hosted by the fantastic Colleen Edwards, whose "The Real Story" is fast becoming the go-to place for unbiased housing news.

The most shocking fact of the evening came from the San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Said, who noted that about only a tenth of the people who needed mortgage modifications were getting them.

Carolyn said she frequently gets phone calls from readers expressing great frustration in trying to get their loans modified to avoid foreclosure. The story goes like this: Every time a customer in distress calls his mortgage lender to talk about a modification, he gets a different customer contact person -- who may not know where the file is or be in possession of the documents. The homeowner walks that person through the situation, faxes in a new copy of the documents -- and then calls back, only to find he has reached a new person and may have to start all over again! "The banks also tell people who are current on their loans that they can't help them until they've missed a payment -- which they're not supposed to do," Said noted.

The problem, as a story by Time's Barbara Kiviat explains in "Why The Banks Aren't Modifying Home Loans", could affect some 3 million people. The good news is that the Obama administration realizes what a disaster this is, and Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr met with the executives of top lenders last week to lay down the law. The Administration stated that it wants to increase the number of modifications to half a million by this November first.

That's better, though it still may not be fast enough soon enough.

If you're in danger of foreclosure, be aware that you do not want to miss a payment if you can help it.

Instead, go to the "Making Home Affordable" website from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- you can fill out a five-question quiz that will help you determine the next step to take in getting a modification. Good luck!