“Know Your Options” for Avoiding Foreclosure

Published August 11, 2010

As the nation slowly bounces back from the recession, many homeowners are still facing the frightening possibility of foreclosure.  In fact, approximately 2.7 million Americans have lost their homes since 2007. African Americans and Latinos have borne the brunt of the losses. According to a report for the Center for Responsible Lending, 8 percent of Latinos and African Americans have lost their homes due to foreclosure compared to 4.5 percent of Whites.

In spite of these dire situations, some homeowners refuse to seek help due to embarrassment or the assumption that nothing can be done.  In many cases this is far from the truth. In some instances, all that’s needed is the right information and a game plan. Home mortgage lender Fannie Mae is working to ensure that the tools to save one’s house from foreclosure are within everyone’s reach.

Fannie Mae recently launched KnowYourOptions.com, a one-stop shop of resources for homeowners searching for the best options to avoid foreclosure. The Web site is incredibly user-friendly and according to Cristina Miranda, Director of Multicultural Communications and Translation Management at Fannie Mae, this is by design.

“Over the past year, as we’ve gotten feedback over what’s working and what’s not, we’ve used that as the genesis to creating the virtual assistance," Miranda says. "We wanted a sort of trusted advisor to help people navigate the site in a really non-threatening way.”

Some of the key features of the site include:

  • - Interactive tools to help homeowners identify which option may be right for their situation
  • - Financial calculators to explain how many of the options work
  • - Video of real homeowners discussing how they got help, and housing counselors providing advice
  • - Useful forms, including a financial checklist and contact log
  • - Virtual assistants who will walk homeowners through the site

 

To make the site accessible to Spanish-speaking people, a translation button has been added. Every page on KnowYourOptions.com can be translated to Spanish with a click.

 

As more people are coming to terms with the option of foreclosure, Fannie Mae wants everyone to be well aware of their options. While foreclosure might be the only course for some homeowners, there are ways for people to walk away from their houses gracefully, or escape foreclosure altogether. Miranda advises homeowners to be wary of scammers, especially online where their activities seem to have increased lately.

 

“Some of these foreclosure prevention scams have gotten more sophisticated," Miranda adds. "Some the people walk in with letters they’ve received from these people and it looks more official than our stuff. The thing to remember is all of this information is free. You see the commercials on TV with people saying they can save your home for a small fee. All of that is a scam. There’s no need to pay someone when your servicer is willing to do it for free and they’re the only ones that can do it.”

 

 

 

Written by Sherri L. Smith

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