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Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation

 

Foreclosure Prevention Information

 

Since the beginning of the current foreclosure crisis, the O'Malley-Brown Administration has been fighting to preserve homeownership for the residents of Maryland. Because of the Administration's commitment, Maryland has been at the forefront of efforts to combat the crisis and preserve homeownership through a package of new laws and regulations, resources for housing counselors, recruitment and training of pro bono lawyers and extensive outreach.

Help for Homeowners

For Marylanders facing foreclosure, there is help available.

Homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments or fear they may become unable to make payments in the near future should contact their lender immediately.

Housing Counseling
Non-profit housing counselors are trained and certified to assist homeowners at risk of or facing foreclosure. Counselors are available to meet face-to-face or via phone to discuss your situation, evaluate your budget for a possible solution, and act as a liaison between you and your mortgage company.

Studies show that homeowners who work with non-profit housing counselors:

  • are more likely to keep their home,
  • are more likely to receive a loan modification that lowers their mortgage payment and/or interest rate,
  • are likely to receive a more favorable loan modification than homeowners that don't work with counselors, and
  • the sooner homeowners work with a counselor, the better their results.

To find a non-profit counselor near you, call the Maryland HOPE Hotline at 877-462-7555 or visit MD HOPE.

 

MD DHCD Foreclosure Help
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Job Loss
If you have recently lost your job, you may qualify for unemployment insurance. Please visit MDunemployment.com today.

Making Home Affordable
President Obama has implemented the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program, which is helping millions of Americans lower their mortgage payments so they can stay in their homes. For more information about the MHA program and eligibility requirements, visit: Making Home Affordable or Financial Stability.

Help with Utilities
For questions about your utility bills or to seek assistance with disputing bills, visit The Office of People's Counsel.

Renters facing eviction due to home in foreclosure
If you are renting, but know that the home you rent is in foreclosure, visit The Public Justice Center.

Maryland Foreclosure Reform

Since 2008, Governor O'Malley has signed into law a series of statutes designed to combat the foreclosure crisis. These new laws have improved the foreclosure process by giving homeowners earlier notice of a possible foreclosure, and by extending the time before which a foreclosure sale can occur. This gives homeowners more time to resolve their hardship before the house is sold. In July 2010 a new law went into effect which provides a mediation option designed to give homeowners an opportunity to meet with their mortgage company and a neutral third party to ensure that alternatives to foreclosure have been considered and evaluated. Alternatives could include a loan modification if the homeowner is eligible, or if the home cannot be saved, a short sale or deed-in-lieu may be discussed.

Foreclosure Mediation
There are two types of foreclosure mediation. Homeowners only have one chance to attend foreclosure mediation so it's important to understand your options.

Pre-file Mediation - mediation before a foreclosure action is filed in court and not required by Maryland law. If your mortgage company is going to offer pre-file mediation the notice will be included with your Notice of Intent to Foreclose (see below for a timeline description).
Post-file Mediation - mediation after a foreclosure action has been filed in court and is required by Maryland law if you have not participated in pre-file mediation. Your option to request post-file mediation will be included with paperwork after your case has been filed with the courts.

The Foreclosure Process (PDF document, 1.3MB, download Adobe Acrobat for free)

A Notice of Intent to foreclose (NOI) must be sent to the homeowner 45 days before the official court document is filed in the court house. The NOI must include the following: a loss mitigation application, information about housing counseling, and details about possible options available. If your mortgage company is offering pre-file mediation, the option to participate will be included with your NOI. Your mortgage company does not have to provide this option.

91 days after default:
This is the earliest date that a foreclosure can be filed with the courts. The foreclosure filing is called an Order to Docket (OTD). The OTD must include one of the following affidavits:

A preliminary loss mitigation affidavit will be filed if the mortgage company has not started or completed the review of your loan for foreclosure alternatives known as loss mitigation. An application for loss mitigation will be included. Complete and return the application immediately; OR

A final loss mitigation affidavit will be filed if the mortgage company believes it has no available alternatives to foreclosure. This affidavit will come with a Request for Foreclosure Mediation. You have only 25 days to request post-file foreclosure mediation after you receive these documents. To request post-file foreclosure mediation, you must send the completed form with a non-refundable fee of $50 to the Circuit Court.

If you request mediation:
Your request will be forwarded to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), where an administrative judge will mediate the case within 60 days after receipt of your request from the court. The judge cannot make decisions, but can act as a neutral third party in an effort to reach a mutual resolution.

For more information on the Maryland Foreclosure Mediation Law, visit MD HOPE.

Please seek assistance from a HUD approved, non-profit housing counselor.
To find a counselor near you, visit MD HOPE or call 877-462-7555.

 

An Important Message for Maryland Homeowners from Governor Martin O'Malley
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Avoid Becoming a Victim: Mortgage Fraud and Scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The foreclosure crisis has led to an increase in foreclosure-related scams, including those that involve so-called loss-mitigation consultants and foreclosure rescue consultants. If you feel you may be the target or victim of a mortgage modification scam or of foreclosure fraud, trust your instincts and seek help. File a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation. For tips on spotting scam artists, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website on foreclosure rescue scams.

Maryland law is designed to protect homeowners from unscrupulous individuals wishing to take advantage of those in danger of losing their homes. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

  • There is never a fee to get assistance or information about the "Making Home Affordable Plan" from your lender or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Approved, non-profit counselors can be accessed through 1-877-462-7555.
     
  • Beware of any person or organization asking you to pay up-front fees in exchange for providing mortgage counseling services or modification of a delinquent loan. Do not pay - walk away.
     
  • Do not believe guarantees. A reputable counselor will not guarantee that they can stop the foreclosure process, regardless of your circumstances. Working with a legitimate counselor can certainly increase your chances of keeping your home -- but be wary of people who promise a sure thing. Again, first get the details of your transaction and any related promises in writing before you enter into an agreement.
     
  • Beware of anyone who says they can "save" your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house. Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage lender, or with your attorney.
     
  • Never submit your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage lender without your mortgage lender's approval.

For more information visit: Loan Modification Scam Alert

Additional Resources:

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brochures

 
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