SOURCE: Scott H. Marcus & Associates

Scott H. Marcus & Associates

January 14, 2010 10:05 ET

Mortgage Modification Aid to Homeowners

South Jersey Law Firm Scott H. Marcus & Associates Advises Diligence When Taking Advantage of Government's Foreclosure Rescue Plan

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ--(Marketwire - January 14, 2010) - With a record number of homeowners facing hardship paying their mortgages, stuck in homes valued at less than their outstanding loan balances, or even facing foreclosure, mortgage modification might be an appealing plan of action to gain back control of your financial well-being.

Scott H. Marcus & Associates, recently named one of South Jersey's top bankruptcy attorneys by SJ Magazine, has just expanded its services to include mortgage modifications, in order to help homeowners navigate and expedite a process that can be rife with landmines. Poorly handled, a mortgage modification can become a part-time job in itself, and can lead to frustration, excessive fees and, in a worst-case scenario, a shrinking credit score.

Under President Obama's foreclosure rescue plan, homeowners have the opportunity to modify their existing loan agreement so that no more than 31 percent of their pre-tax income goes toward the monthly mortgage payment. A trial modification period is required, during which lenders temporarily reduce payments while it gathers and processes the paperwork needed to make the new arrangement permanent.

The trial period is supposed to last three months. But feet-dragging -- on the part of both the lender and the applicant -- can cause delays, leaving the homeowner in a virtual credit limbo. And the longer the "trial period" goes on, the more potential damage to your credit rating, as your payment status is listed with the major credit reporting agencies as a "partial payment plan" until the permanent mortgage modification takes effect.

According to the latest Treasury Department report, some 759,000 struggling borrowers have received temporary mortgage payment relief under the White House's loan-modification plan, officially called the Home Affordable Modification Program. But just 31,400 -- a mere 4 percent -- have successfully landed permanent changes. Frequently, the problem is supplying the required paperwork in a timely manner.

"I believe the lenders are beginning to create the structure and personnel to facilitate these requests. But statistics show that two out of three borrowers who want to modify their mortgage don't complete the paperwork necessary to accomplish their mortgage modification. That's where we come in," says Scott Marcus, president of Scott H. Marcus & Associates. "We want to make the process affordable and easy."

Scott H. Marcus & Associates charges $999, payable in two installments to represent borrowers in the process. The firm can also provide representation when foreclosure proceedings begin, responding to lenders' complaint and requesting mortgage mediation -- a program unique to New Jersey.

"There are literally thousands of individuals who could benefit from mortgage modification and the legal services in an effort to save their home," says Marcus. "We are here to help."

If you believe a mortgage modification under HAMP will benefit you, Scott H. Marcus & Associates offers the following advice:

--  Be wary of scams.  Unscrupulous companies often target those whose
    homes are listed as being in foreclosure.  Avoid anyone who "guarantees"
    they can save your home, demands excessive up-front payment, or claims to
    be a representative of -- or approved by -- the Federal government and asks
    for payment.  There is no fee to participate in the government-sponsored
    program.  Also, carefully check credentials and business history, and do
    not do business with or provide personal information to anyone who
    initiates contact with you.
--  Follow up diligently.  If you're going it alone, begin following up
    as soon as your package is received by the lender.  Lenders are required to
    acknowledge your request within 20 days of receipt, but don't be afraid to
    call sooner to move the process along.
--  Consider hiring an advocate.  The mortgage modification process is
    like taking out a new loan.  The lender will do its due diligence, and
    you'll feel like you're jumping through hoops to satisfy its requests.  An
    experienced lawyer or expert can help smooth the process, ensure all
    documents are provided promptly, and generally stay on top of the lender.
    He or she can also mediate any bumps in the road, and protect your
    interests in case the lender causes excessive delays.

Established in 1984 Scott H. Marcus & Associates provides businesses and individuals with outstanding legal services in a variety of practice areas including corporate law, debt collection, bankruptcy, mortgage modification, real estate, wills and estates. Headquartered in Washington Township/Turnersville, N.J., the firm is equipped with a full staff of attorneys, paralegals, and support personnel and is committed to excellence in client service. For more information call 856-227-0800 or visit For Scott H. Marcus & Associates debt collection and commercial litigation division, visit

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