Areas of Interest
I am deeply concerned about the effects that widespread foreclosures have had on Nevadans and the national economy. While the housing market in Nevada has improved in recent years, I remain committed to working on ways to stabilize the housing market and bring relief to families. For answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the foreclosures and the federal government’s response to the housing downturn please click here.
For struggling Nevada homeowners, my staff will work to get you in contact with financial counseling, legal aid and other services that may help. My goal is to ensure Nevadans are able to access as much information as possible in order to prevent foreclosure. To request assistance, please download and complete a privacy release form (Spanish).
Nevadans looking for more information may call (702) 388-5020 in Southern Nevada and (775) 686-5750 in Northern Nevada.
If you are at-risk of foreclosure and need help, communication is key. Here are several numbers you can call for assistance. And, as always, you can contact any of my offices for additional help.
Home Again – Nevada Homeowner Relief Program
Home Again is a new program that makes it easier for homeowners in Nevada to determine what state or federal assistance may be available to them with a single “one-stop”, free resource. Those that may benefit from the program include:
- Homeowners seeking loan modification
- Borrowers who are current, but “underwater”
- Those who have lost their homes to foreclosure
- Households working toward homeownership
The no-fee service is available for all Nevadans simply by calling toll free 1-855-HLP-4-NEV (1-855-457-4638) with both English and Spanish-speaking assistance available. The call center is open 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information is also available at www.HomeAgainNevada.org.
Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline
1-888-995-HOPE is available:
- To any homeowner in America having trouble paying their mortgage.
- Any time–24/7.
- Free foreclosure prevention counseling by expert counselors at HUD-approved agencies.
When a constituent calls 1-888-995-HOPE:
- Service begins immediately—the counselors themselves answer the phone.
- Homeowners can get budgeting help, a written financial plan, and assistance contacting their lender.
- If they would like face-to-face counseling, they are referred to their local NeighborWorks® agency or other counseling agencies.
- If they need additional services, they are referred to agencies in their area.
If you need more information:
- About 888-995-HOPE: info@995HOPE.org (For more information click here)
- About in-person counseling: email@example.com (For more information click here)
- Click here for HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies
Contact Local HUD Offices
Las Vegas Field Office
302 East Carson Street, 4th Floor
Las Vegas, NV 89101-5911
Phone (702) 366-2100
Fax (702) 388-6244
Reno Field Office
745 West Moana Lane, Suite 360
Reno, NV 89509-4932
Phone (775) 824-3700
Fax (775) 784-4978
Please be advised that the Nevada Division of Mortgage Lending is urging borrowers to be extremely wary when considering contracting with forensic mortgage audit companies. A forensic mortgage audit is a review of the borrower’s mortgage loan documents to determine whether or not the lender complied with state and federal mortgage-lending laws, such as the Federal Truth in Lending Act.
The Division cautions that many of these services, which are marketed as tools that borrowers can use to get better loan terms or to influence loan modifications, arefg in fact scams. Furthermore, even if the audit is performed by a trained forensic auditor, a mortgage professional or attorney, there is no indication that paying for this service will help borrowers obtain a better or faster loan modification. The decision to modify a loan ultimately rests with the lender or mortgage loan servicer.
If you do choose to pay for loan modification services, please check the Nevada Division of Mortgage Lending’s list of licensed and bonded companies. If you think you are a victim of a forensic mortgage audit scam, you can file a complaint with the Nevada Division of Mortgage Lending. If your complaint concerns an attorney offering this service, you can file a complaint with the State Bar of Nevada.
The Obama Administration established the Making Home Affordable program to help provide viable refinancing options for responsible homeowners, loan modifications for distressed homeowners, and incentives to ensure that lenders work to stabilize the housing market one home at a time.
Millions of responsible homeowners are unable to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates because they have lost value in their homes as a result of the downturn in the housing market. The Making Home Affordable program will help those homeowners that took out conforming loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance into more affordable rates.
Millions more struggle to stay current on their mortgage payments in the face of depleted household income. The Administration has proposed a comprehensive strategy to establish loan modifications that create a shared effort between the government and the lender to reduce the borrower’s monthly mortgage payment to as low as 31 percent and no more than 38 percent of income. This program requires institutions that receive federal government assistance to follow clear guidelines for preventable foreclosures and will help at-risk homeowners by implementing the following measures:
- Providing “Pay for Success” incentives for servicers to perform loan modifications, including an up-front fee of $1,000 for each eligible modification and additional fees – awarded monthly as long as the borrower stays current on the loan – of up to $1,000 each year for three years;
- Providing incentives for borrowers to receive a monthly balance reduction payment as long as they stay current on the loan, up to $1,000 per year for five years; and
- Encouraging servicers to reach borrowers early with incentive payments of $500 to servicers and $1,500 to mortgage holders if they modify loans before at-risk borrowers fall behind in payments.
Additionally, the Administration recently improved the Hope for Homeowners (H4H) program, another mortgage-modification program that especially helps homeowners facing negative equity in their mortgage, a problem that unfortunately too many Nevadans face. This program allows homeowners to be placed in a fixed-rate, federally guaranteed mortgage in return for the mortgage holder agreeing to reduce the principal owed on the mortgage to a level below the current value of the home.
Most recently, the Administration expanded the Making Home Affordable program to help incentivize short sales. For many Nevadan homeowners trapped in a mortgage with negative-equity, a short sale is often a practical and economical solution. This new initiative will encourage lenders to pursue this avenue by:
- Offering mortgage servicers up to $1,000 and borrowers up to $1,500 to successfully complete a short sale transaction; and
- Provide up to $1,000 to offset the costs associated with enticing second mortgage holders to relinquish liens that would prevent a short sale.
For information and resources about programs to help make your mortgage affordable, please go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/.
The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which was signed into law in 2007, provides tax relief for the discharge of debt associated with a person’s principal residence. This tax relief was initially enacted for two years and offers relief to homeowners who would otherwise have owed taxes on forgiven debt. This change generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principle residence. Without this change, debt reduced through mortgage restructuring and debt forgiven after a foreclosure or short sale would be treated as income and be subject to income tax. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, extended by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, creates a temporary exception for debt forgiveness discharged between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2013. I am proud to have supported all of these bills.
I worked to lead passage of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, which has been signed into law, includes several provisions to prevent foreclosures, protect tenants and combat mortgage scams. This law:
- Protects loan servicers from lawsuits, many of whom won’t modify mortgages fearing they will be sued by investors.
- Expands the H4H program by lowering fees for homeowners and lenders alike, and giving lenders greater incentives to participate. This program helps modify loans with the goal of lowering monthly mortgage payments.
- Provides resources to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to combat mortgage fraud, including additional staff and advertising to warn consumers about scams and inform them of legitimate foreclosure-relief services.
- Provides up to $5 million a year for two years, and directs HUD to advertise in languages that will raise awareness more broadly in communities across the nation. This will help prevent fraud and provide homeowners with information on how and where to get government-approved assistance.
- Includes revised legal protections for tenants of foreclosed homes.
Mortgage fraud is one of the biggest factors of the current economic crisis. Unfortunately, as the federal government increased efforts to help families losing their homes, the prevalence of fraud rose simultaneously. There are many companies claiming to be government-approved and charging for services that should be free. Further, these companies are also continuing to offer consumers extremely risky loans or tricking them out of their homes. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in 2001, 6,400 cases of fraud were reported across the country. In 2010, the number of fraud cases had increased more than tenfold to 70,533 cases [FBI]. To resolve this problem, I helped lead the Senate to pass the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 which President Obama signed into law. This law:
- Provides critical funding and new tools that will allow law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI and HUD, to prosecute and punish those responsible for the mortgage fraud and corporate schemes that have hurt countless hardworking Americans and led to the worst financial crisis in decades.
- Increases resources to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to take fraud cases to trial.
- Applies federal regulations to all companies that sell mortgages. Previously, the federal government could only regulate banks.
- Closes several legal loopholes that otherwise may allow individuals guilty of criminal conduct to evade prosecution. Individuals who have engaged in corruption or deliberate criminal behavior should not be able to escape punishment on a technicality.
- Provides the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) funding to investigate subprime loans. For example, a FTC investigation resulted in charges against a California company allegedly charging Hispanic and African American clients higher interest rates than White clients, even though they had the same qualifications [FTC].
If you think you are a victim of mortgage fraud please contact the Nevada Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at in Las Vegas (702) 486-3194 or (775) 684-1180 in Carson City. A complaint form, as well as other valuable information on consumer protection is also available on the Attorney General’s website.