What is the Bank of America Nationwide Homeownership Retention Program?
The program aims to help eligible Countrywide borrowers stay in their homes with affordable and sustainable mortgage payments. Bank of America acquired Countrywide on July 1, 2008.
How do I know if I'm eligible for loan modification?
If you're an eligible borrower whose loan is scheduled for an interest rate change, you'll be contacted by Countrywide after December 1, 2008. If you believe that you won't be able to afford the new payments, you'll be invited to contact Countrywide to discuss possible loan modification.
You do not have to wait to be contacted to get general information about the program. You may call Countrywide at 800-669-6607 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST, and visit Countrywide's Web site, www.countrywide.com. Click on "Countrywide Customers: Bank of America Announces Nationwide Home ownership Retention Program."
Not all Countrywide borrowers will be eligible for loan modification. Some of Countrywide's requirements include:
You live in the home;
You received a qualifying subprime mortgage or a Pay Option adjustable rate mortgage prior to December 31, 2007;
Your loan is serviced by Countrywide;
You're 60 days or more behind on payments or likely to fall behind, as determined by Countrywide; and
The "loan-to-value ratio," or the amount of your loan divided by the value of the home, is 75% or higher at the time of modification, again as determined by Countrywide.
The information above is a guideline, and does not give every detail of eligibility, which can be determined only by Countrywide.
Why isn't every Countrywide borrower eligible for loan modification?
The program helps those borrowers who are in most need of immediate assistance. Qualifying subprime loans and Pay Option ARM loans are most at risk of default.
If I am eligible, how will my loan be modified?
The exact terms of a modification will vary from borrower to borrower, and will depend on your individual circumstances. Countrywide may first offer a FHA refinance under the federal HOPE for Homeowners Program. If the borrower is not eligible for the HOPE Program, Countrywide will offer specific programs based on the type of loan.
In general, borrowers may be considered for possible interest rate reductions or conversion to an interest-only loan for a period of time. Some borrowers may be eligible for principal write-downs under certain limited circumstances. Loan modification programs will provide payments within the limits of an Affordability Equation set out in the agreement, with a payment target of 34% of the borrower's household income.
For borrowers who are eligible for loan modification, Countrywide will not initiate or advance foreclosures. This relief will be in effect for the time needed to determine the borrowers' interest in staying in the home and their ability to afford the new terms, as well as the investor's willingness to accept a loan modification.
I'm a Countrywide borrower in foreclosure. Am I eligible for assistance?
If you are facing imminent foreclosure and agree to voluntarily leave the premises at the time of the foreclosure sale, you may be entitled to a cash payment to assist with relocation costs. Countrywide anticipates payments to 35,000 borrowers nationwide in a total amount of more than $70 million. The relocation assistance program is not restricted to borrowers who received a subprime mortgage or a Pay Option ARM.
Do's and Don'ts
Do call the Home ownership Retention Program immediately if you're worried about missing a payment, even if you believe you're not eligible for loan modification under this program. Ask whether general financial hardship assistance is available.
Don't stop making payments on your loan because you believe you might be eligible for this program. Failure to make payments can damage your credit, and may hurt your chances of getting relief under this program or any other plan.
Don't ask your local branch office or your mortgage broker to decide if you're eligible; the Homeowner Retention Program will contact you directly, or you may call 800-669-6607.
Don't do business with anyone who claims you must pay them a fee to request a loan modification or to receive a favorable decision on modifying your Countrywide loan.
Do seek the advice of an attorney or trusted adviser before you sign loan modification documents or you agree to release legal claims through this or any other program. Links to lawyer referral services are available on the New Jersey State Bar Association Web site at http://www.njsba.com/lawyer_referral/. Low-income residents may contact Legal Services of New Jersey at 888-576-5529 to find out if they are financially eligible to get legal information, advice and referral by telephone.
What if I need relief, but don't get assistance from Countrywide?
If you believe that you were denied a loan modification or foreclosure assistance in error, contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at the address below. To find resources to help you deal with mortgage problems, visit The New Jersey Homeownership Preservation Effort (NJ HOPE) Web site, http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/njhope/alliance.html , or call the Home ownership Preservation Foundation at 1-888-995-HOPE.
How do I protect myself from con artists who offer to help me save my home or obtain surplus funds after a foreclosure sale?
The Division of Consumer Affairs has two Consumer Briefs that can help: Foreclosure Scams – How to Avoid Them http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/brief/foreclosure.pdf and Surplus Funds Scams http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/brief/surplus.pdf
For questions or to file a complaint, contact the Division of Consumer Affairs online at http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov, by mail to P.O. Box 45025, Newark, New Jersey 07101 or by telephone at 1-800-242-5846 (toll-free within New Jersey ) and 973-504-6200 from all locations.