A smile and a strategy may help get that loan modification

loan applicationCome this June, as WalletPop has reported, new government rules take effect that are designed to make it easier for distressed homeowners to get not only that often-elusive, three-month trial mortgage loan modification, but also the much more sought after (and relatively seldom gotten) permanent mortgage modification.

But new rules and regulations, while helpful, are only part of the picture. As with many other things in life, having the right attitude and a firm plan in place before paying a visit to your questionably friendly neighborhood loan officer may greatly enhance your chances of getting that loan modification.

Most of what you should do (need to do) is pretty much common sense. But everyone's sense of what is common might not be the same. So, with that in mind, I reviewed a few websites that offer tips on how to talk with your lender about loan modification and how to negotiate the most effectively.

Certified short sale specialist Ken Crotts starts his advice with the basics: "Have your loan number, lender information, their phone number and your social security number on one sheet so easy to find." Now, that sounds like a no-brainer. But wouldn't you like to have a crisp dollar bill for every distressed homeowner who doesn't even have this basic foundation in place?

It's vital that you keep careful notes of all the conversations you have, on the phone and in person: Write down who you talk to as well as when you talk to them.

Be patient and understand that, at least initially in the process, you may get conflicting information from different people. That is why note-taking and keeping is so very important to the process and your own peace of mind.

The lender, says Crotts, "is going to offer you the alternatives that are best for them in order from best to worst."

"Keep smiling," part of the advice given. And, keeping in mind that "to the banks this is just a process." The only thing that really works, Crotts advises, is "having a never-quit attitude."

On eHow.com, advice includes: "Make sure to know the state of your finances before contacting your lender. Determine how much income you're bringing in each month, how much you're paying in bills and where you can cut costs."

It is even recommended that you seek a nonprofit counseling service to put together a complete financial analysis.

Really key here: make sure, before you open talks with your lender, that you can answer the question, "How are you going to eventually pay off the loan?" A blank stare when asked this, is not likely to produce the results you are hoping for!

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and the co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate and related issues for several years.

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