The Iowa Mortgage Foreclosure Hotline has had nearly 5,000 calls since it opened in September in response to the national mortgage crisis. Mike Thompson is the director of the Iowa Mediation Service that runs the hotline.
Thompson says they were overwhelmed with the phone calls in the first weeks and months, "I don’t think there is any way to think that we every anticipated that many calls." He says they tried to calculate the time spent and it came to over 25,000 minutes figuring about five minutes with each call.
Thompson says one of the biggest things they do is listen. "Many of theses stories are sad, many are scary," Thompson says. He says the biggest question they have is how to stop a Sheriff’s sale of a home. Thompson says they’ve been able to stop 10 or 11 sheriff’s sales, but have seen that many go ahead.
Thompson says one of the biggest problems are the layers of people involved in each mortgage. Thompson says they’re dealing with loan mitigation, and also the people who’re servicing the loans, and "sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing." He says they’ll come to an agreement and will do it on a Friday and then Monday morning the borrower will get a letter from a law firm saying they’re foreclosing.
Thompson says the mortgage companies are starting to see the importance of working with borrowers to resolve the problems. He says the lenders are starting to look at what’s in their best interest and finding that foreclosure should really be a last option. Thompson says they do have some cases where there have not been payments in 36 months, and he says their job is to help all parties look at their best interest. He says they have to have both the creditors and borrowers make a decision.
Thompson believes there’s progress being made. "I’m encouraged because I think the people we’re working with are trying make sense of this," Thompson says. He says that’s the encouraging part of the job, but he says there sill will be some desperation where people are going to lose their home and they still have to help them make a logical decision when there’s nothing else left.
Thompson encourages anyone who has concerns about their mortgage to call the Foreclosure hotline at: 877-622-4866.