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WHEN SHOULD I STOP PAYING MY MORTGAGE?
This seems to be THE NUMBER ONE question I get. Unfortunately there are several answers and which is correct for you depends on the Circumstances. I will address the common scenarios in this article.
SO LET'S GET INTO IT - Danger - this is a long article and it covers a lot of ground!
A borrower that is current and contemplating a short sale wonders if they should stop paying their (first) mortgage. They are upside down and until now they have been current. However they are paying the mortgage at a cost of not paying other bills. (Other or different facts may be that they are paying all their bills but taking the money from savings or a pension fund to make those payments, or they are borrowing money from another equity loan).
Generally, it is not a good idea to get into debt to pay your mortgage, unless you have a solid plan to both (i) keep the mortgage current and (ii) repay the additional indebtedness you are creating. It is not like taking from one pocket to put into another - it is more like taking from someone else's pocket to pay your bills. This would include credit card loans as the source of funds. It all has to be paid back, so if you don't have a plan to pay it back, don't borrow it in the first place! You are only digging a bigger hole for yourself and making it harder to get out of the hole.
If you are taking from your pension or savings money, again you better have a rock solid plan to get that money back into those accounts, or there is no sense in giving up that hard earned and usually irreplaceable retirement money, especially considering these are monies that are usually protected from creditors' judgments including those your mortgage lender could obtain (deficiency judgment)..
Of course the "amount" of money you have "in reserve" comes into consideration. If you have 2 million dollars in reserve and you decide to spend 10% of it to keep the loans current until you can short sale the property, that plan has a basis that the 10% is not going to make a difference in the way you run your life over the remaining time you have left as a mere mortal.
Sometimes, but rarely, we run into a lender that says they won't approve a short sale or modification because the borrower is current with his payments. When we have encountered this it is in most cases associated with a government backed loan, (but later on we will show you why this may be motivated by plain greed on the part of a loan servicer). A properly compiled financial snapshot of the borrower should show why they are current and what will happen if the short sale or modification is not approved.
Your decision on how to proceed should be based on what goal you are trying to accomplish and how you plan to get to that goal (see how to determine your goal).
Apart for some voluntary government programs regarding (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) government involved mortgages, I know of no lender that absolutely will not deal with a borrower who is current with their mortgage payments. Lenders deal with all sorts of situations and "absolutely not" is just not in the vocabulary. A typical borrower calling a lender may hear that they must be late, but that is more of a "vetting" statement than an absolute policy.
The exceptions are some government program guides for modification. The first step to seeing if your loan comes within this exception is to see if it is a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. You can do this online at the Making Home Affordable site. Many servicers and lenders whose loans are not "government backed" are now choosing to follow this government plan (known as the Home Affordable Modification plan or more affectionately called the "Obama Plan" - see below) for the simple reason that they are being compensated by the government for each successful modification they execute within its guidelines, and either the servicer or lender receive a residual bonus for the loan staying current under the modification. In these cases we have seen non-government backed loans insist on the borrower being late to qualify for modification as well. What is confusing on this point is that when the plan was introduced it included modifications (and compensation for such) for current loans as well.
However, we are told time and time again from the lenders directly that they must be late to qualify. There is no such rule in the guidelines.
While this is contrary to what has been published by the government about the plan, keep mind that following the plan and any of its various aspects is entirely voluntary and up to the Lender or servicer. They can pick and chose from this plan as they see fit for their own internal reasons. Here is a more interesting twist - a servicer that modifies a delinquent loan is paid more under this incentive plan than if the borrower were to modify while the loan is current! If the borrower is current, the servicer can receive up to $3,500 in incentive fees from the government. If the borrower is delinquent, the servicer can receive up to $4,000 in incentive fees from the government. Thus it seems that it pays ($500 to)the servicer to encourage a borrower to be delinquent!
We often see a client that fits the profile for modification under this government plan. Some of these plans are said to require that to be qualified the borrower must be late 60 days (see Guidelines page 5 at bottom). But in fact, being late is not a requirement, but only one factor of many (see Guidelines page 16 at the top - "However, a NPV (net present value) positive result is not necessary to qualify a loan for a Home Affordable Modification"). If the goal is to qualify under such a plan as put in place by the lender at that time, then to accomplish that qualification the borrower may need to make themselves late, but that cannot be determined in a 2 minute telephone call with a lender representative. I cringe when we go this route because just like these "plans" came into existence, I can see them change the plan thus leaving the now 60 day late borrower with ruined credit scores that occurred needlessly.
Generally about a quarter of our modification clients never go late and still get a modification offer from the lender. However, keep in mind that nearly all lenders put up as their first line of defense the policy that going late is a necessity to qualify. We can only speculate this is done to deter the enormous inflow of loan modification requests from borrowers that would come in if this was NOT said to be a requirement. It also helps address those in the most dire amount of need first.
The Pro's and the Con's:
The general rule of thumb we use is if you can pay your mortgage and maintain your life's necessities, you may consider keeping the loan current, taking the points in this article into account. However, if you need to choose between buying food or medications and paying the mortgage, the decision that should be made is clear: your life necessities take precedent.
Here are the pro's to consider when in the short sale or modification process. Keeping the loan CURRENT has the following benefits:
a) Your credit score is not dinged until the short sale transaction occurs (and not at all in most loan modifications) and your overall credit score reduction will be minimized, and b) You will remain in good standing with your lender without worry of penalties, fines, or a foreclosure.
The "con's" of keeping the loan current are that:
(a) You will be out of pocket for the monthly mortgage payment (monies which you may or may not need to survive), and
(b) Your lender may question the sincerity of your claimed hardship, and you may be spending funds that would otherwise be potentially (but rarely) forgiven by the lender. In addition, occasionally the lenders in a short sale may require a lump sum payment above the sale amount from the borrower to forgive the debt. Coming up with that money is sometimes the difference between a deal or no-deal. If you can put your mortgage payments aside and stockpile them, it will help you cover that potential lump sum.
A similar pro/con approach applies to GOING DELINQUENT with your mortgage. In favor of going late is being able to keep the unspent mortgage payments in your pocket (or applied towards other necessities as the case may be) in which event your hardship may appear more sincere to the lender. On the other hand, there are very real consequences to going late with your mortgage payment:
a) You WILL incur late fees and other penalties on the late interest. Usually this is not a large issue as it is part of the forgiven debt in a short sale and usually forgiven in a modification, but it is something to consider,
b) Your credit score downgrade will be harder as you will compound the short sale hit with a 30 day late, 60 day late, etc, (and if this is a modification you will make a non-negative credit score event turn into a negative credit score event), and
c) You will eventually cross a threshold (typical industry standard of 90 days late) where the lender will initiate a foreclosure action in State court.
Going Late on Your Second Mortgage:
SHOULD I PAY MY MORTGAGE?
ou've made the decision to buy or sell a luxury home, and now it's time to select the real estate professional who can best assist you. Not all good agents operate effectively in the upper-tier market. It is a market segment that requires special competencies. As a member of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, Patty Dasilva is able to provide high quality service to her buyers and sellers of luxury homes.
Green Realty Properties (954) 667- SALE (7253)
Green Realty Websites:
Green Realty Properties
12555 Orange Drive
Davie, FL 33330
(954) 667-SALE (7253)
RESS®, AHWD®, e-PRO®, GREEN ,CFS
Luxury Short Sale Specialist
Certified Distressed Property Expert©
BROKER - Owner of Green Realty Properties, Inc. REALTOR®
(954) 667-SALE (7253)
Certified Distressed Property Expert ©
South Florida Real Estate Listing Broker
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