Web Site Cuts Through HAMP Redtape

Having trouble getting through the red tape of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)? You're not alone. But getting mortgage relief has just gotten a little bit easier.

A new web site, FreeHAMPreport.com, promises to walk you through the process and determine whether you are eligible for HAMP within 15 minutes -- at no cost. It even offers online chat if you run into trouble completing the information needed for HAMP paperwork. If you do qualify, the site offers more assistance, for a fee. But we're thrilled to see a useful tool to help borrowers who have been struggling with the complex process of applying for a mortgage modification.
The FreeHAMPreport.com software is similar to the type a broker would use to determine whether or not you qualify for a loan. The key difference is that the software is kept up-to-date with all the latest HAMP rules. In designing the system, the company (also called FreeHAMPreport.com) set out to simplify the process of completing the home modification paperwork, CEO Jonathon Ende told HousingWatch. "We're trying to empower our clients," he said.

Ende built this program based on years of experience in loan processing. Both lenders and borrowers complain about HAMP paperwork, he said. Lenders grumble about receiving paperwork that is partially or incorrectly filed out, while borrowers complain about the complex forms and lenders losing paperwork.

FreeHAMPreport.com takes the borrower through the process step-by-step and even flags potential problems as the arise. For example, suppose a borrower understates expenses -- a common mistake Ende says people often make that can kill their chances for qualifying. The program automatically alerts the borrower to the IRS expense guidelines and how the numbers differ. The software helps the user determine where they may need additional information or which information may be disqualifying them from getting a successful modification.

More comfortable dealing with a real person? There's a button on every page that allows you to initiate an online chat session with a customer service rep to help fill out the forms.

The software aims to take much of the hard work out of the paperwork. Applicants answer simple questions and fill out basic forms, which the software then uses to automatically complete the more complicated forms and calculations that the lender needs.

The eligibility process to see whether or not you qualify is free. But f you do qualify and want to use the software to prepare your actual HAMP forms to send to your bank, you must buy the software for $195. That fee will includes a complete analysis, payment estimator, a lender proposal, lender cover sheets with all the contact information you will need, custom checklist of any other forms you'll need to include, and 24/7 online access for a year. If you're modification is not successful because the bank determines you don't qualify even though the program indicated you did, the fee will be refunded, says Ende.

For those who want a little more hand-holding, there's another level of service. If you want help dealing with your bank, you can choose an "expert" package for $495. In addition to the basic package, it provides lender submission, help from a dedicated expert, a documentation manager and a log for keeping track of all conversations with your lender. If you've been thinking about contacting a lawyer, which could cost you thousands, you may want to give this program a try first.

Ende says he's developing the option to complete the paperwork with e-signature and e-file and hopes to have it available soon. With that process, you'll upload any additional forms, such as W2s and pay stubs, and then be able to just click a button to submit the package to your lender.

Even if you decide not to purchase the software, you'll be able to get a good idea of what you need to do to complete the HAMP forms for the bank. You can also find simple answers to frequently asked questions on the website.

The web site can't guarantee you'll get a mortgage mod, but it could save you hours of frustration.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including "The 250 Questions You Should Ask to Avoid Foreclosure."
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