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DEC 31, 2012 1:34pm ET

Disabled Couple Increases Income to Save Home from Foreclosure

DEC 31, 2012 1:34pm ET
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Even though fewer foreclosures are being completed at the end of 2012 compared to the beginning of the housing crisis, going through the default foreclosure process is still a troubling period for any distressed borrower.

But one family was determined to not lose their home to foreclosure even though they were six months behind on their mortgage payments.

Michael and Lora Zook, who reside in Pasco, Wash., are both hindered with medical issues that make it difficult to find extra money to meet their monthly loan obligations.

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Lora is a cancer survivor but was left with a condition that caused difficulty walking. Meanwhile, Michael experienced an on-the-job injury that resulted in him not being able to work. He was also in the process of applying for Social Security Disability when the couple decided to work with a housing counselor agency who could try to coordinate a loan modification with their lender.

Working with Agency Apprisen, a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Michael said they first felt “defeated” heading into the first session with a counselor. However, after housing counselor Yvonne Fengler researched which options were a good fit for her clients’ traumatic situation, the first “glimmer of hope” in months became evident for the Zooks.

Fengler reviewed the Home Affordable Modification Program requirements and determined that the financially cash-strapped family was $500 short a month of qualifying for this type of modification.        

“At that time we had no knowledge of what programs might be available to help us save our home, but by the time we left her office, not only did we feel relief, but we knew we had someone in our corner,” he said about working with Agency Apprisen.

Upon hearing from Fengler the positive news that there was an option available for them, the Zooks were not going to let any barriers get in their way. To earn $500 more a month so they could qualify for the modification, the couple began exploring job opportunities that fit their disabilities. At the end of the day, the best option available was a newspaper delivery route.

Michael would assemble the papers, and Lora, in spite of her difficulty walking, would deliver them. Although this was challenging at first, the couple was successful performing this job.

After only four months, the Zooks had saved enough money to make the initial payment to qualify for the HAMP trial modification. Additionally, there was also money left over which was put into an emergency savings account.

Nine months after receiving the initial trial modification and proving that they could meet the monthly payment demands, the family was offered a permanent loan modification that was approximately $400 less than their original mortgage payment.    

Although it was challenging at first, Michael is now receiving disability payments as well as the paper route. Furthermore, with the modification in place, the Zooks are in stable financial position to remain in their home and are better equipped to face any challenges ahead.  

“The determination shown by the Zooks is quite inspiring,” said Mike Kappas, president and CEO of Apprisen, based in Columbus, Ohio.  “They worked hard to be able to keep their home and are now putting in place the foundation for a strong financial future.”