Tips for the hardship letter

The hardship letter needs to have a few basic elements.   The obvious ones are the loan number, names of the borrowers, and a description of the hardship.  You don’t have to be a literary genius to create your own hardship letter, but there are ways to improve the effectiveness of the letter.

Tip #1

Instead of simply stating the facts of the financial hardship situation, you want to evoke emotion in the reader.  Remember, the reader is the loss mitigator and that person’s job is to make sure the lenders and the investors backing the lenders limit their losses.  If they can feel some sympathy for your situation, you have a much better chance of getting the short sale or loan modification approved.

Tip #2

If the financial situation of the borrower is looking grim and they might be headed toward bankruptcy, mention that.  Any mention of the word “bankruptcy” will create a sense of urgency with the loss mitigator.  If bankruptcy is not a possibility, don’t waste your time trying to bluff.  It isn’t honest and you get into a gray area that includes a crime called  fraud.

Tip #3

Give specific examples of things that have been done to help remedy the hardship situation.  The lender needs to understand that you are experiencing a real hardship, and not just trying to game the system.  The short sale and loan modification processes are complex and thorough to be sure each situation is legitimate.

For more tips and information on the housing mess, check out my book Mangled Mortgage. Email info@mangledmortgage.com.

The hardship letter

In the case of short sales or loan modifications, a letter must be written to the lender describing the circumstances (hardship) causing the borrower’s inability to continue paying the mortgage loan according to the original terms.  A hardship letter should illustrate long-term or permanent circumstances that make the borrower unable to pay in order to be considered a legitimate hardship.

A legitimate hardship is when the borrower’s personal situation has experienced a change which prevents the borrower from making payments as originally agreed.  Some examples of common hardships:

  • Death of an income earner in the family
  • Divorce
  • Large loss of income (long-term or permanent)
  • Job relocation or job loss
  • Mortgage payment adjustment that makes the payments unmanageable
  • Health issues

The hardship must be a long-term situation.  If the owner simply had a bad month or still has money in savings and retirement accounts, the bank is less likely to approve a short sale.

As the housing crisis continues, lenders are becoming more flexible with some of their hardship requirements.  With the current stimulus bill, there may be a way for the lenders to minimize their losses in a short sale.  Hypothetically, that would encourage more homeowners to get out of their houses with relatively little damage to their credit.

For a copy of a sample hardship letter, email info@mangledmortgage.com.