ARM Loan Holders Feel Endangered by Foreclosure

Silver Spring, MD-A recent study shows that the majority of adjustable-rate mortgage customers now are in a "foreclosure state of mind" worrying whether they will be able to pay monthly dues when interest rates start to adjust.

According to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling study, up to 81% of the participants "indicated they were worried about not being able to make their mortgage payment" when interest rates change.

NFCC reported that results were based on data from 1,689 consumers who took the nonprofit's Mortgage Reality Check test online to review their mortgage situation. It also found "a startling 71% of those taking the quiz fell into the red category and are in need of immediate help to save their home."

Though it is not a scientific study, NFCC executives believe the results of its Mortgage Reality Check indicate "the impact of the mortgage crisis is sinking in with consumers" who need to take action as soon as possible.

"Ignoring the problem or delaying in reaching out for help can mean the difference between keeping one's home and losing it to foreclosure," said NFCC spokesperson Gail Cunningham.

Results from data generated by customers who took the quiz in November and December show 52% admitted to skipping payments on some bills in order to be able to pay the other bills. Up to 61% do not believe their financial situation will be improved by refinancing their home and 62% admitted having "trouble sleeping due to worry over their current financial situation" in general or more specifically about the possibility of losing the home, their car, or the ability to use credit.

In addition, several trends become visible if data from November and December are compared to findings from the October results.

For instance, the number of customers who fell into the dangerous red zone rose by 4%. An increased number of homeowners - up to 4% more - said they have not made the last three mortgage payments on time. The number of homeowners who believe their property is depreciated and stated they now owe more on their home than it is worth increased by 2%. Also the number of consumers having trouble sleeping due to financial worries increased by 7%.

Since 1951, NFCC members have promoted "financially responsible behavior" and financial education and counseling services helping over 2 million consumers through 911 community-based offices nationwide and over 1,200 certified housing counselors.

Mortgage Reality Check is a 12-question, self-diagnostic tool designed to assess a homeowner's financial situation, create a "risk of foreclosure" profile based on their answers, and then slot them into the appropriate (color coded) risk category. The red category indicates the homeowner needs immediate advice or counseling assistance, according to NFCC, while yellow suggests that the consumer preferably should review the responsibilities of homeownership, and green signifies the consumer is not at risk for foreclosure.

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