Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Save the Dream--Avoid Foreclosure Scams

In the Toledo Blade on Sunday, June 27th, a letter appeared from Bill Farnsel of Neighborhood Housing Services. In it, he pleads for desperate homeowners in danger of foreclosure to think and choose carefully when “foreclosure rescue” firms come calling. He listed two things to look out for in particular: 1) they ask for money up front and 2) they guarantee results. Legitimate help can be had for free from HUD-approved agencies like NHS, (419-691-2900. Here's a nationwide list of HUD-approved counselors.) and NOBODY can guarantee results, period.
In a way, it reminds me how we all got into this. Back in the ‘90s, I met patrons who turned up their noses when I told them about nonprofit agencies that offered to get them into their first homes, because those agencies advocated the old-fashioned way to home ownership—only buy the house you can afford to pay for and keep up, no tricky mortgages, getting your own financial house in order first, etc. But they met subprime folks who told them that stuff was all for suckers, that there was a better, faster way to buy a lot of house for no money down. It looked a little tricky, but it would all work out. Until the layoff happened, or the adjustable mortgage adjusted. And then it didn’t work out.
Now we all know better. The guy in the nice suit, or the nice TV commercial, is once again telling you something too good to be true. If you are having foreclosure problems, or trouble paying your mortgage, go to legitimate sources of help. Neighborhood Housing Services is one, and more help is available at Save the Dream for Ohio homeowners, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, or nationwide at HUD, a site with a list of counselors around the U.S and other advice. Talk to them before you talk to people in television ads.

No comments: