The Notice of Pre-Foreclosure Options: What You Need to Know

on Wednesday, 06 March 2013.

If you’ve missed a mortgage payment, make sure you’re opening all your mail. Among the intent to accelerate  and late notices, you will receive a Notice of Pre-Foreclosure Options from your lender. This is a required notice in Washington State for any homeowner who has missed even one mortgage payment.  These notices start out with the following words: “Important Rights for Homeowners.” Because the NOPFO can be confusing to wade through, here is the important information to take from the notice.

1) You are not yet in active foreclosure.

Just like the title of the Notice of Pre-Foreclosure Options says, you are still in the pre-foreclosure stage. Your mortgage servicer cannot auction the property at any time. Under Washington State law, you must be issued a Notice of Default and a Notice of Trustee Sale before your property could be auctioned. Active foreclosure begins with the delivery of the Notice of Default.

2) You should, however, take action in the pre-foreclosure stage

The NOPFO says, you have thirty calendar days from the notice date to respond to your mortgage servicer. You can respond by one of two ways: either bycalling the contact number on the notice or by responding to thel address by certified mail. The WHRC recommends responding by certified mail in case you need to prove to the servicer you responded in time. Responding within 30 days gives you 90 days from the date of the NOPFO before your mortgage servicer could issue a Notice of Default. If you do not respond in 30 days, a Notice of Default can be issued as soon as 30 days from the date of the NOPFO.

3) The date on the NOPFO is key.

Most likely you would NOPFO in the mail about a week after the notice is dated, leaving you with about 22 or 23 days to respond. Since mortgage servicers are not  flexible about the date, make sure you respond within 30 days from the NOPFO date and not from the date the notice came in the mail. Keep the envelope to show the time discrepancy.

4) Contact a housing counselor about your NOPFO.

The meet and confer is a great opportunity for your lender to go over the documents (s)he needs to start you on a loan modification track, short sale track, or deed in lieu of foreclosure track. There is a lot of information to process and plenty of paperwork to complete.A housing counselor acts as an advocate for you in the process. A meet and confer can occur any time after the NOPFO is issued to you; even if you’ve missed your 30 day opportunity to respond to the NOPFO, you can still contact a counselor to set up a counseling session.

5) Don’t get too caught up with mediation…yet.

The NOPFO mentions your right to a mediation. Wording, however,  makes it sound like you need to have a counselor or attorney request that mediation right away. Remember, a mediation cannot be requested until you receive a Notice of Default. First, find a cousnelor and get them the information and docuemnts to submit a package to your lender.

6) Use your NOPFO as a resource.

Your NOPFO has three phone numbers to contact and websites to visit for assistance and information as well as a contact number for your lender. Call these numbers to to get the resources you need to be well informed. .

The NOPFO gives you the opportunity to seek assistance before you get a Notice of Default or a sale date on your property. Acting now will give you time to be well prepared.

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