Foreclosure Rescue Plans Pose Questions

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By J.W. ELPHINSTONE
The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 18, 2007; 12:43 AM

-- Eylonda and Tyrone Wynn of Dallas thought their prayers had been answered when two young women from Resolutions Foreclosure & Home Mortgages knocked on the door in December 2005.

"It was like 'Yes, we can save our house. We can start over again,'" said Eylonda Wynn, a 37-year-old mother of three.

Rising medical bills had put them behind on the mortgage payments for their blue-gray three-bedroom house on a quiet street in Cedar Hill, Texas, a Dallas suburb. Their mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp., was threatening to foreclose.

The Wynns paid Resolutions $950 to negotiate a repayment plan and in January 2006, Resolutions told the Wynns the lender had agreed. But a month later, after they still hadn't received any paperwork, they found out their house was to be auctioned that day and their file at Resolutions had been closed. They were forced out of the house in March, four years after buying it.

"They were there to help us out of foreclosure, but we lost the first house we bought instead," Wynn said.

A Resolutions official blames the Wynns for not following through on their efforts. But the couple's experience highlights one of the risks for homeowners who find themselves desperately trying to avoid foreclosure: You may simply wind up losing more money.

As the number of foreclosures rise around the country, the number of companies offering help is increasing, too. Many are negotiating terms the homeowner could fairly easily obtain on their own, while others are doing even less and simply exploiting vulnerable homeowners.

Experts recommend that homeowners screen offers carefully, and take the following precautions:

_ Don't pay upfront fees to any person or organization promising help.

_ Don't sign anything without having an independent lawyer review it.

_ Seek out accredited financial counselors, using lists such as those kept by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Its list is at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hccprof14.cfm.

While no one tracks the number of foreclosure aid providers, real estate professionals and consumer advocates nationwide say questionable practices are rising, especially in areas such as southern California, Las Vegas and southeast Florida where a housing boom was fed by a sharp increase in mortgages to borrowers with riskier credit.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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