Avoiding Foreclosure: VA Has the Tools to Help
A home is your most important and largest long-term investment. VA currently guarantees more than 1.8 million home loans for Veterans, their families and survivors. Many Veterans with a VA loan sometimes experience difficulties making payments, whether from unexpected medical bills, divorce, expensive repairs, etc. We understand, and we are here to help you find a solution so you can keep your home. Over the past few years, we have helped almost 300,000 Veterans who became delinquent in their mortgage find a way to avoid foreclosure. On our website, you can see real stories of real Veterans who were in trouble with their homes find solutions. There are many ways we can help you too.
At VA's Home Loan Guaranty Service, we have more than 150 VA loan technicians across the country whose job is to help Veterans understand how to retain their homes and/or avoid foreclosure. For the past five years, VA guaranteed home loans have had only a 2% foreclosure rate – the lowest and best in the industry. If you, a friend or a family member is experiencing financial challenges that are affecting your ability to maintain home ownership, please give VA a call at (877) 827-3702. Whether your home loan is a VA guaranteed loan or not – we are available to discuss your situation and help you decide on your best options.
When a VA guaranteed home loan is 61 days past due, our electronic reporting application automatically assigns a VA loan technician to follow up on the Veteran's situation – offering financial counseling, advice and support, help in dealing with the loan servicer when needed, information and additional tools on avoiding foreclosure. Sometimes the most helpful service we can provide is a sounding board – someone to bounce ideas off of and discuss options for how to avoid further delinquency. More information on VA's delinquency guidance services can be found here [PDF].
Here are just a few tips for borrowers experiencing financial challenges:
When speaking with your loan servicer about your delinquency, give him or her accurate information about your financial situation. If you over or under estimate your income and expenses, you may be setting yourself up for failure by agreeing to a payment plan you can't afford.
Do not stop paying your home loan because you are "under water." Foreclosure should not be used as a negotiating tool and there are other options that will have a much better impact on your financial future. Ask instead about a repayment plan, special forbearance, loan modification, or additional time if you determine you can no longer afford the property and you need to consider a private sale.
A home loan is a business contract that you have entered into for up to 30 years. Think of it as a car loan X 6! Any changes to your loan represent risk and you should ensure that you understand the effects of any change, even if it seems small. Give VA a call and let us help you review any changes before you "sign on the dotted line."
If paying your home loan bill each month is becoming more difficult – take the time to track all of your expenses over a month. Figure out which expenses are "obligated" – meaning you must pay them every month (home loan, bills, child care); and which are "unobligated" (eating out, entertainment). Creating and sticking to a monthly budget calls for hard choices, but you may be surprised to see just how much you are spending in different areas, and how cutting back in a few can make a positive impact.
When you begin to experience financial difficulty or when you believe you may have difficulty making your mortgage payment, contact your loan servicer right away. The sooner you contact them, the quicker you and the servicer may be able to find a resolution. Remember, VA technicians are also available to assist you.
Andrew Trevayne is the Assistant Director for Loan and Property Management, Loan Guaranty Service. He has worked for VA for15 years, beginning his career at the Houston Regional Loan Center. He previously served in the 82nd Airborne at Ft Bragg.