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Loan modification step-by-step process
Getting started
The information below is offered and intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or professional advice. We encourage you to seek legal help for your particular circumstances.
Obtaining a loan modification is one way to avoid foreclosure and stay in your home; however, the process can be challenging. Loan modifications are often available through your lender/servicer, or you can apply for the federal government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Whether you apply for a loan modification with the assistance of a counselor or you do it yourself, there are crucial steps you should take to increase your chances of success.
Before you start, know the following:
  1. Carefully analyze your financial situation to determine if you can realistically afford to keep your house, even after a loan modification.
  2. No one can guarantee a successful outcome when requesting a loan modification.
  3. You do not have to be late on your mortgage payments to obtain a loan modification, but must demonstrate you are at imminent risk of not being able to make your house payments, including property taxes, insurances, and homeowner association fees, if applicable.
  4. You will have a better rate of success if you submit a complete document package and follow instructions carefully.
  5. All the submitted documentation will be subject to verification. Make sure your documents are recent, legible, and provide clear and sufficient information.
  6. Except for Form 4506-T, which is intended for obtaining copies of your tax returns from the IRS, make sure each page is numbered and it clearly shows the loan number and the name of the borrowers.
  7. If your application is initially approved, you likely will be placed on a trial payment period before you are permanently approved for a modification. You must comply with all the conditions before you are approved for a permanent modification.  
  8. Understand the timelines and how the foreclosure process works in Oregon.   
  9. You have rights and obligations. Your lender/servicer must also comply with state laws before it can foreclose. 
  10. Be proactive, have lots of patience, and don't give up.
  11. If you decide to hire a private company or individual to help you apply for a loan modification, make sure it is registered to do business in Oregon.
For more specific information and assistance, see below.   
Frequently asked questions
I am not delinquent or in foreclosure yet but I foresee difficulties in the immediate future in making my mortgage payments. What are my options?
You may qualify for a loan modification if you can demonstrate and document you are at risk of being unable to make your mortgage payments. For example, your interest rate will change (increase), your work hours will be or have been reduced, you or your immediate family have had a medical emergency affecting your finances, your total household income will be less, your business is or has been suffering losses, or you are aware you will lose your job in the near future because of reasons beyond your control. It is likely your servicer will also want to know if you have used all your savings or cash reserves.
If you are unemployed or have no means to make the payments, you likely will not qualify for a loan modification, regardless how significant those changes could or will be. At a minimum, you should have a reliable and verifiable source of income and not have other significant large debts such as credit cards, car payments, and other obligations. However, if you are unemployed, you may qualify for a forbearance plan. 
What does it mean when I receive a Trustee's Notice of Sale or a Notice of Trustee's Sale?
This means that your lender or servicer has started the foreclosure process because you are in default. It is important to remember that your lender could also start a foreclosure judicial process, meaning the lender will use the court system instead of instruction a trustee to start the foreclosure process.
What are my options once foreclosure has begun?*
You can still apply for a loan modification and stop the foreclosure process. In addition to the notice of sale, you should have received another notice called "You are in Danger of Losing your Property if you do not take action immediately." If you want to apply for a loan modification, you must respond to these notices within 30 days to the address provided in the forms and send all the requested information as instructed by the lender/servicer. The lender/servicer must notify you within 45 days after receiving all the required information to determine if you qualify for a modification. If you are denied for a loan modification, the lender/servicer should provide you with an explanation of why your application was denied.

The above steps, which the lender/servicer must comply with, are particularly important because five days prior to the sale date (auction date), the trustee will file an affidavit (if the lender/servicer did not postpone the sale) with the county where your house is located explaining in detail how the lender/servicer complied with the law and the above requirements. You can obtain a copy of the affidavit from the county records office where your house is located. Compare the information in the affidavit with your notes and records.
If your loan is insured or owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, your participating lender/servicer must first evaluate your application for a loan modification to see if it qualifies for HAMP. To find out whether Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your loan, click here.
How can I find out if I qualify for a loan modification?
If you are applying for a modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program, you can take a “self test” to determine if you are eligible. 
The next step is to estimate your monthly mortgage payments. To evaluate your projected monthly payments, visit http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/evaluator.html.
You can also make a self-evaluation by using the HOPE Loan Portal, a website intended to help you submit your application for a loan modification with the assistance of an approved housing counselor.
Applying for a loan modification
Step 1. Organize your personal documents. It would be helpful to collect and make copies of the following:
  • Last 60 days of proof of income, but no older than 90 days from all borrowers
  • Bank statements (two months, six months if self-employed)
  • Most recent tax returns
  • If self-employed, current year-to-date profit-and-loss statement
  • Most recent utility bills
  • Documentation of amount of homeowner association dues, if applicable.
Step 2. Compile your application package. If you apply for a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), you can print the forms from the HAMP website. Fill in the information completely and accurately. Do not leave blank spaces or boxes unmarked. The initial package you send to your lender or servicer will include the following documents:
  • Request for Modification and Affidavit Form (PMA)
  • 4506T-EZ form  
  • Proof of income (no older than 90 days)
Depending on your situation, your initial package may also include the following:
  • Last three months of bank statements; more (often six months) if self-employed
  • Last 60 days of paystubs
  • Tax returns; past two years if self-employed
  • Current Profit and Loss statement, if self-employed
  • Copy of property tax bill if you were paying directly
  • Copy and proof of hazard insurance policy if you are paying directly
  • Most recent utility bills
  • Proof of payment of Homeowners Association dues or CCRs, if applicable
If you are self-employed, submit a current and properly documented profit-and-loss statement and your most recent six bank statements to reflect a steady source of income.
Ten days after you send the above information, the lender/servicer will acknowledge receipt of your initial package and may request more information.
Step 3. Find some assistance. If you cannot get the help of an approved counselor, seek help from or discuss your situation with a family member or trusted friend. It is better to start the process with another trusted person who may have experience or at least be able to discuss your process. You can also contact state staff​ who may be able to give the information you are looking for or refer you to a trusted source.
Staying organized is important. Make sure your information is complete and you provide any additional information the lender/servicer requests. For example, if the lender/servicer needs an additional paystub or other document, it may be a good idea to send the complete package again either by certified mail or fax. Each page of the documentation needs to be numbered and include the borrowers' last names and the loan number. Make a copy of all the documents and information you send and keep careful records of your communication with the bank or servicer’s representative.  
If you successfully submitted and received approval for a trial period under HAMP, the foreclosure process should be postponed.

Useful links and resources

How to (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pqBtoh0Q6A

Making Home Affordable Program: www.makinghomeaffordable.gov

Making Home Affordable FAQ: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/about-mha/faqs/Pages/default.aspx

Oregon Homeowner Help: www.oregonhomeownerhelp.org