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New program available for distressed S.C. homeowners

South Carolina residents who are in need of a mortgage modification may be interested in a state program known as the S.C. Homeownership and Employment Lending Program. It came online in January and its intended goal is to help struggling homeowners keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. In addition to helping with possible loan modifications, the program may be able to help those who are in less severe trouble.

In order to qualify for the program, homeowners must meet certain criteria and will have to supply documentation. However, the qualification bar was set low, and homeowners do not have to be delinquent on their mortgages to qualify. Program officials say that even though the program can help those in arrears to become current on their mortgage (and even provide monthly payment assistance for up to two years), the program can also be used by those who may fall behind in payments due to involuntary unemployment, divorce and layoffs.

Those who may be interested can get more information from the website. The program is being administered by the South Carolina Housing Authority, and there is no charge to apply. Best of all, those who get help do not have to pay back any of the money they receive. Homeowners who qualify can get a maximum of $36,000 in mortgage assistance over two years.

With falling property values and mortgage challenges facing so many people, financial aid is a truly a blessing. But for those who do not qualify for this program, consultation with an experienced real estate attorney may prove beneficial. This may be especially true for those who may be considering a short sale of their property.

Source: Lake Wylie Pilot, "Free mortgage assistance available," Michael Harrison, Oct. 11, 2011

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