No one knows you are behind in your mortgage payment. No one knows because you haven’t told anyone. Your friends and relatives think everything is just fine because you haven’t said anything. But inside the anxiety grows, as do the fears that you could lose your home.

For many it would be difficult to make up for a missed mortgage payment. But if one missed mortgage payment turns into two or three, the amount of money just to get current is beyond staggering — it becomes hopeless. Many homeowners are finding themselves in just this situation for reasons beyond financial irresponsibility.

Cutbacks at work have forced some people out of the workforce and into the work hunt. Some have been injured and unable to work or are now faced with mounting medical and legal bills from another family member. I have even heard of others who have kept their jobs but only after re-negotiating a lower salary, hourly pay or commission rate.

The Obama Administration has implemented a new program called “Making Home Affordable” aimed at helping 7-9 million homeowners during the next three to four years lower their monthly mortgage payments to “more affordable levels.” The Home Affordable Refinance Program is designed to provide 4-5 million homeowners with an opportunity to refinance their Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed mortgages. The Home Affordable Modification Program has committed $75 billion to help keep 3-4 million homeowners in their homes by “preventing avoidable foreclosures.”

This and more information is available at or by calling 888-995-HOPE (4673).

If you can no longer afford to make your monthly mortgage payments, you may qualify for the Home Affordable Modification Program that could make your monthly payment more affordable. Perhaps you already have tried to refinance your home and discovered that under the current refinance programs available, you don’t qualify. You are current with your house payment but still find it unaffordable. You don’t want to file bankruptcy and you don’t want to lose your home to foreclosure. Here are the five pre-qualification questions for HAMP:

• Is your home your primary residence?

• Is the amount you owe on your mortgage less than $729,750?

• Are you having trouble paying your mortgage? (For example, have you had a significant increase in your mortgage payment or reduction in your income since you got your current loan or have you suffered a hardship that has increased your expenses such as medical bills?

• Did you get your mortgage before Jan. 1, 2009?

• Is your payment on your first mortgage (including principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues, if applicable) more than 31 percent of your current gross income?

If your answers to these five questions are yes, the Web site will tell you that you are eligible under the guidelines of HAMP, but be aware that only the servicer of your loan can tell you if you qualify. The Web site continues, “To qualify, you will generally need to show that you have adequate income to make the reduced payments on an ongoing basis and that modification is an appropriate option given the characteristics of your mortgage and the value of your home.”

Some of the items you will need to gather in advance of contacting the servicer of your loan are:

• Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of your household, including recent pay stubs.

• Your most recent income tax return.

• Information about your savings and other assets.

• A copy of your monthly mortgage statement.

• Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit.

• Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all credit cards.

• Account balances and monthly payments on all other debts.

Additionally you must complete a four-page “Hardship Affidavit,” which is available on the Web site mentioned above.

The process may seem involved, and those seeking loan modification should expect extended wait times. While many lenders have signed on with the administration to provide this service, the program still is young and more time will be required for it to run more smoothly. In any event, if you are struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments or are already behind, it is in your best interest to call your loan servicer and communicate with them. Together you are more likely to work out an agreeable solution to your situation.

TREY BOWDEN is a licensed mortgage professional in Edmond. To read more, go to:

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