Home for the Holidays

Ah yes. There’s no place like home for the holidays. Many of us are cautiously optimistic that more struggling homeowners will be able to stay in their homes in 2013.

Why the glass-half-full thoughts? Foreclosure prevention efforts are making their mark. Reports hint that more jobs are out there. Foreclosure starts are at a 71-month low.

What keeps the glass only half full are some stats that give us pause…including some of our own. MortgageKeeper referrals are up–way up–at the end of this year. This is due to several factors, but also shows us that help is still needed. Stats from RealtyTrac show that bank repossessions are on the rise. So perhaps we’ve just been enjoying a foreclosure “holiday” while changes in servicing and foreclosure policies are implemented. As with all statistical information, time will tell if we are all-knowing or all wet.

From all of us at MortgageKeeper, we wish you the very best of holidays, and hope that 2013 brings more relief and assistance for those struggling to keep their homes.

Housing Crisis Opportunities

Mistakes are the portals of discovery. ~ James Joyce.

Ah yes, mistakes. We all make them. We hate them–especially their inevitability. But even the most negative of folks know that they don’t leave us where they found us.

So it goes with the Housing Crisis. No matter what your politics, if you are servicer or foreclosure counselor, struggling homeowner or landlord, we can agree that the mortgage and housing markets needed to be repaired.

A recent article in The New York Times made us think about housing system flaws that are coming to the forefront. It discusses how a Catch 22 is sending quite a few widows into untimely foreclosure: these women can’t get help lowering their payments until they are named on the mortgage note…but they can’t add their name until they are current on payments.

No doubt surviving spouses have been battling this issue for years. However, it took the Housing Crisis, the focus on foreclosure, and the sheer number of victims to cause consumer advocacy groups and even some heavy hitters in the mortgage servicing industry to take notice. And change, while perhaps slow to come, is coming. Crisis always leads to opportunity.

Feeding the Hungry

After last week’s Thanksgiving feasting, we read a thoughtful article in the New York Times about hunger. It mentioned that 1 in every 8 Americans is hungry.

(This humble blogger once worked for an organization in Ohio that focused on feeding hungry children. There the stat for hungry children was 1 in 4.)

It seems inconceivable. With the focus on obesity and keeping weight down, it’s hard to fathom that others–likely people we see in line at the store, walk past on the street, or even work with–might be going without the food they need.

Here at MortgageKeeper, our experience supports these troubling numbers. Our application’s “food assistance” category is consistently one of our top 5 most utilized. Specifically:

* Referrals for food assistance have reached nearly 100,000 in 2012–an average of more than 300 every day.

* 14% of households who worked with a nonprofit financial counselor needed help to afford food.

* A straw poll of counselors who use our product validates a point made in the New York Times article: that many people–especially families with young children and seniors–don’t know that they qualify for food assistance.

This holiday season, instead of worrying about how to keep those extra pounds off, we do better by donating to our local food banks. Or, better yet, volunteering. We encourage you to find your local food bank and see how you can help.