Don't Believe Guarantees
Even if you qualify and are eligible for a modification of your home loan, lenders are not required to offer you a modification. All of the modification programs are voluntary. So be very, very suspicious of anyone who promises or guarantees he can get you a modification.
After you've submitted your loan modification documents, be diligent. Check in with your lender often through mail, e-mail or phone (Keep notes and copies, as explained below). Loan modifications do take time to process, but the lenders also have a history of delaying and dragging out the process.
Get it in Writing
It's possible a representative over the phone will tell you that your foreclosure sale will be postponed while the lender is evaluating you for a modification. If you don't have that promise in writing, do not believe it and do not rely on it. Usually, you won't get that statement in writing until AFTER you've been approved for, accepted, and starting making a payment on a trial modification. Check online or call the agency handling the foreclosure to see when the latest sale date is.
Lenders are notorious for "losing" or "misplacing" documents you send to them. It's not uncommon to be asked to re-send documents 3 or 4 times before they're finally received and processed. Be prepared by keeping paper or electronic copies of everything you get from or send to the lenders.
Often you'll be talking to lenders over the phone to find out about the status of your modification or to get information or ask for an explanation. Take notes in the form of a journal or log where you write down: 1) The Date, 2) The Time, 3) The Name of the Person you're talking to, 4) The Extension of ID# of the person you're talking to, 5) Detailed Notes about your conversation, 6) Any Followup Actions you took. This information can be important in your negotiation process but also will make it more likely that an attorney or other agency will take your case seriously if the lender later goes back on any promises it made you. Example: 03/06/12 9:00 a.m. Shelly at ext. 9999 Called to ask about status of loan modification. Shelly said she didn't see any loan modification application in my file and asked me to re-send it. I sent with delivery confirmation today.
Watch Out for Scams
Since July 2010, it has been illegal for anyone other than a licensed attorney to charge you an upfront fee for a modification or modification services. Lawyers can charge you upfront fees under the idea that if the lender lies to the lawyer, the lawyer can sue on your behalf. Loan modification companies that you hear on the radio, or see ads for should not be charging you any fees upfront. Your best bet is to talk directly with your lender, with someone at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, with a free HUD approved counselor, or with a licensed attorney with an Arizona Bar number. If you encounter a scam, contact the Attorney General's Office and a licensed attorney you can trust.
Don't Wait Until the Last Minute!!!!
In Arizona, it is incredibly difficult and often impossible to undo a foreclosure sale after it happens. That's because Arizona law assumes that a sale was valid after it's completed. Make sure you get help from a trusted source (HUD, Legal Aid, an Attorney) as early on as possible. DO NOT WAIT until the last few days leading up to your sale to try to stop it. Give the people who want to help you as much time as possible, at least a few weeks, to see what they can do. DO NOT WAIT until the last minute!!