Olympia – The Washington State Department of Financial Institution's Consumer Services Division advises homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage to be cautious about using the services of someone offering to help them work with their lender to modify the terms of their home loan.
The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received a number of inquiries regarding the legality of providing this service in this state. While there is nothing inherently illegal about this business, those providing this service in the State of Washington must be licensed as loan originators, mortgage brokers, or consumer loan companies and be overseen by the Department of Financial Institutions. Additionally, under applicable law, the loan modification provider associated with mortgage brokers have a fiduciary relationship with the borrower and must act in their best interest.
"DFI is concerned that homeowners in desperate situations may pay substantial fees for loan modification services and not take advantage of the HUD-approved counseling services offered for free by numerous non-profits," DFI Director Scott Jarvis said. "The non-profit providers can often negotiate better deals because they have formed working relationships with many of the lenders."
Many say if the offer is too good to be true, if often is.
"We are concerned because loan modification businesses are using high-pressure tactics to get people to pay for their services, in some instances claiming a 100 percent success rate in negotiating their loan," warns Deborah Bortner, DFI's Director of the Consumer Services Division. "The truth is, not every loan is fixable."
DFI advises homeowners to make sure loan modification providers are licensed as a loan originator before using these services. Verify a license at www.dfi.wa.gov or by calling 1-877-RING-DFI. DFI is also warning consumers to be especially wary if one of these companies asks for a fee up front. Consumers may also wish to seek free homeownership counseling. For more information, visit www.homeownership.wa.gov or call 1-877-894-HOME.