Counseling Improves Mod Success, Nearly Doubles Payment Reductions
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[This article is written by Carrie Bay from DSNews and republished here with permission. View the original article here. ]

Data released by NeighborWorks America on December 20th illustrates the value of foreclosure prevention counseling for homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments. The organization has found that a homeowner who works with a housing counselor is nearly two times more likely to avoid foreclosure than those who go it alone. Counseled borrowers also lower their monthly mortgage payments by nearly twice as much and are less likely to re-default after a mortgage modification.

NeighborWorks America is the administrator of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program, which was implemented by Congress in January 2008. Based on a new report that analyzed the NFMC program in its first two years, through December 2009, the nonprofit group found that the odds of curing a foreclosure is 1.7 times greater for a homeowner who works with an NFMC counselor than for a homeowner who doesn’t receive counseling.

The analysis also revealed that homeowners who obtain a mortgage modification through the NFMC program lower their mortgage payments by an average of $555 per month, compared to savings of just $288 per month for homeowners who don’t work with an NFMC program counselor. NeighborWorks says the national counseling program has helped individual homeowners save more than $6,000 annually.

In addition, the re-default rate for homeowners counseled through the NFMC program was better than that for homeowners who didn’t receive counseling. The NFMC report estimates that 36 percent of counseled homeowners who received a default-curing mortgage modification became serious delinquent again after eight months, compared to 49 percent of homeowners who received no program counseling.

“The NFMC program results clearly demonstrate the value of counseling,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Ken Wade. “The findings announced today illustrate the real household and economic benefit foreclosure counseling can have for families facing foreclosure.”

The report also found that the likelihood of curing a foreclosure was better when an NFMC program counselor was involved, even if the homeowner had been in foreclosure for many months. According to the report, for a group of typical NFMC program clients whose loans enter foreclosure, an estimated 55 percent of these foreclosures would cure within 12 months of when the foreclosure started with the help of an NFMC program counselor, compared to only 38 percent otherwise.

The NFMC program was created by Congress to address the nationwide foreclosure crisis by increasing the availability of housing counseling for families at risk of foreclosure. Congress has appropriated $475 million to the NFMC program. More than 1,700 counseling agencies operate under the program.