You know that mortgage modification you’ve been trying to get for a year, the one where the servicer keeps losing the paperwork and no one is able to tell you anything when you call?
There may be hope for the millions who are trying to find an alternative to foreclosure — if they are willing to be patient.
If this sounds like an answer to a prayer, you can thank the bureaucrats who crafted the National Mortgage Settlement, which mandates a consumer-friendly Web portal.
It’s called Homeowner Connect (www.homeownerconnect.org), and is designed to offer another option for consumers who are unwilling to contact their servicers directly and who want to have some control of their applications for help, as well as a guarantee that their documentation is retrievable if it is misplaced.
Five of the largest mortgage servicers paid $25 billion to settle state and federal investigations that found they routinely signed foreclosure-related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without really knowing whether the facts they contained were correct.
Homeowner Connect is a “neutral” portal connected to servicers’ systems, said Cam Melchiorre, president and CEO of Hope LoanPort, a free Web portal available to housing counselors nationwide that provides access to servicers representing 80 percent of the mortgage market.
The difference between Homeowner Connect and Home LoanPort is that the latter is designed for use by HUD-approved mortgage counselors assisting borrowers with applications, while the former allows consumers to handle their applications.
Borrowers using the new portal, available at the moment only to customers of GMAC Mortgage, can find HUD-approved counselors and call on them at any time during the process.
GMAC Mortgage funded development of the site and is the first servicer to adopt it. Melchiorre expects most of the nation’s servicers to be on board with the new website in six to nine months, he said during a recent teleconference from Washington.
“Consumers will be given the opportunity to see the status of their applications without using the traditional (means) that have been weak and confusing,” he said.
The mortgage settlement requires that the status of these applications be updated automatically every 10 days, which “establishes transparency in the life cycle of these submitted applications,” Melchiorre said.
The site was launched last month, but not actively marketed, Melchiorre said.