Submitted by the Washington State Attorney General’s office.
After the federal foreclosure moratorium ended on July 31, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is offering guidance and resources to Washington homeowners about the availability of housing counseling services. Ferguson is encouraging homeowners need to act now to learn what post-forbearance options they may have based on the type of loan they have. Housing counselors can assist homeowners to navigate new federal rules and assistance programs that take effect at the end of August to help people keep their homes.
Homeowners may need help understanding their mortgage documents or what options they have before talking to their mortgage servicer. The Washington Homeownership Resource Center offers free or low-cost resources, including housing counseling, at homeownership-wa.org or by calling 1-877-894-HOME (4663).
New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules that take effect Aug. 31 will require servicers to offer more post-forbearance options to homeowners. For some homeowners, these options could include:
• Apply to have their loan interest rate reduced
• Extend the term of their loan
• Reduce their monthly payments
• Servicers that fail to comply could be in violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, which the AG’s Office enforces.
Know your rights and avoid potential scams
The new CFPB rules apply to mortgages on a homeowner’s primary residence. Certain protections for homeowners offered by the CFPB will expire on Dec. 31. Modifications and payment programs will differ based on the types of mortgages people have. A housing counselor can help a homeowner determine what type of loan they have and explain options.
State law requires lenders to notify borrowers prior to foreclosure of the availability of foreclosure counseling and potential mediation. A housing counselor or attorney must refer any homeowners who wish to participate in a mediation program.
With new rules and confusion, scammers may try to take advantage of the situation. Companies may claim they can help homeowners get mortgage relief, stop foreclosure or obtain equity from their homes. Beware of anyone who charges upfront fees, guarantees results or asks you to sign over title to the home.
If you believe you have already been a victim of a scam, call the Washington State Attorney General’s office at 1-800-551-4636 or file a complaint with the office online or in writing: atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx.