Ms. Cornish works to keep local residents in their homes, teaching them not only how to deal with mortgage companies, but also how to avoid further trouble. DCS does not charge a fee for her expert advice. Home foreclosure is a widespread problem. According to www.realtytrac.com, in June of this year, there were 1,399 foreclosures under way in the state, or one out of every 1,700 housing units. Ms. Cornish said a situation can go from bad to worse when disreputable companies learn of a homeowner’s late payments and offer what seems to be a solution.
“They are scamming companies,” Ms. Cornish said. “They will send a letter that looks very official.” “For a fee, they say they will modify your mortgage,” she continued. “If you have to pay a fee, you should be skeptical.” Rather than get mixed up with a shady company, Ms. Cornish said a homeowner should contact the Community Action Center at the first sign of trouble. “What we do at that point is help them to realistically look at their situation,” she said.
What some homeowners don’t realize until it is too late is that there is a clock begins to tick when a payment is late. A loan goes into default after two or three missed payments. Then in one or two months, the homeowner will receive a notice of intent to foreclose. After 45 days from that point, an Order to Docket is issued. This is the official beginning of the foreclosure process. Delaying action can make a homeowner’s task even more problematic. “If a person is three or four months behind, there must be full payment,” or a payment plan agreed upon, Ms. Cornish said.
Partial payment no longer solves the issue. “They will even send back a month’s payment,” Ms. Cornish said. Considerations such as lowering an interest rate, delinquencies amortized to the end of a loan, extension of a loan and lawyers’ fees can be overwhelming to a person already in financial difficulty. Ms. Cornish helps the homeowner to look at all the factors and to make a reasonable arrangement with the lending agency.
“I spend a lot of time training people what to say when they speak to mortgage companies,” she said. It is critically important, she added, that homeowners call her when they still have options. “These are intelligent people, they just don’t understand the lingo of the mortgage company,” Ms. Cornish said. “All they need is a break.”
The Community Action Center is located at 1000 Goodwill Drive in Cambridge. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ms. Cornish can be reached at 410-901-2996 ext. 14, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Similar services are available in the Lower Shore from ShoreUp in Salisbury at 410-749-1142 or email@example.com and in the Upper Shore at the Maryland Rural Development Corporation in Greensboro at 410-482-2585.