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Loan modifications may offer relief for struggling homeowners

Americans across the country are struggling to keep their homes as many homeowners continue to find themselves owing more for their home than it is worth. Government officials are taking note, extending relief programs and taking steps to educate the public on programs that may help homeowners who find themselves in these situations.

Educational efforts include The Department of Treasury's Foreclosure Prevention Assistance public service advertising (PSA) campaigns. The most recent campaign, the final in a series of three, focuses on homeowners that have fallen behind on their mortgage payments and are concerned about losing their homes.

These PSAs bring attention to a concern many Americans face: How can I keep my home? One possible answer: Get a loan modification.

Loan modifications in Florida

A loan modification can result in lower payments by changing the terms of the loan. This can include extending the term of the loan and reducing the interest rate. One new mortgage modification program that recently swept Florida with promising results is the Bankruptcy Mortgage Modification Mediation Program. The program provides homeowners with an opportunity to negotiate the terms of their mortgage with their lender in certain situations.

This is only one example of many programs available to assist struggling homeowners. The Obama Administration recently extended benefits offered under the national Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Extensions include the ability to receive a modification for a loan on a home that is not a primary residence, an extension of the debt-to-income ratio used for qualification and the ability to be considered even for those who lost good standing due to defaulted payments.

Involvement in HAMP can provide a homeowner a chance to refinance their home and reduce monthly mortgage payments, provide mortgage relief while the homeowner searches for a job and help those who owe more than their home is worth.

Loan modifications and bankruptcy

Home loans can often be modified before, during and after filing for bankruptcy relief. The Bankruptcy Mortgage Modification Mediation Program is structured to help those already undergoing a Chapter 13 petition and HAMP guidelines allow the completion of a loan modification while filing for relief through bankruptcy. Homeowners partaking in HAMP who are undergoing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case can receive a modification at the discretion of the loan servicer.

Balancing a loan modification and bankruptcy petition can be difficult. Homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments and considering bankruptcy relief should contact an experienced Florida bankruptcy lawyer to discuss their options and better ensure their legal rights are protected.

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At the Tampa Bay law firm, the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller, P.A., we help people with consumer bankruptcy matters in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg,  Florida communities such as Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Thonotosassa, Riverview, Lutz, Plant City, Brandon, Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel, St. Petersburg Beach, Lakeland, Mulberry, Dade City, Pinellas Park, Largo, Seminole, Odessa, Oldsmar and Lithia, and counties such as Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Polk County and Manatee County.