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Fannie Mae opens center to help distressed homeowners

The Culver City facility is one in a string of local centers that will try to help borrowers solve their problems.

November 09, 2010|By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

Housing finance giant Fannie Mae has opened a center devoted to helping distressed homeowners in the Los Angeles area.

The Culver City facility, unveiled Tuesday, is the fourth in a series of local centers the mortgage behemoth plans to open around the country to advise borrowers with Fannie Mae-backed loans. The facility is being operated in partnership with the West Angeles Community Development Corp.

"The goal is to help people understand their financial situation and find an answer," said Jeffery Hayward, senior vice president of the National Servicing Organization at Fannie Mae. "This could range from a refinancing of their mortgage to a graceful exit."

Counselors will review a borrower's loan, discuss foreclosure alternatives and lend a hand with mortgage refinancing, Hayward said.

Since the housing crisis hit, Fannie Mae has hosted events in cities to help unravel complex mortgage problems for homeowners, Hayward said. "But with a one-, two-day event, all we can do is make you aware of your options. There's no time to find a solution."

In response, Fannie Mae launched a website called KnowYourOptions.com and help centers in cities with "a large concentration of delinquent loans," Hayward said. In addition to the Los Angeles area, facilities are up and running in Miami, Atlanta and Chicago. A center in Phoenix will open Wednesday; a Dallas location will open by year's end.

Hayward said advisors at the facilities had helped about 1,000 borrowers, and plans are brewing to open four or more centers next year.

"These could be a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future," he said. "But as the economy improves in the future, it won't be sad to see them go out of business."

shan.li@latimes.com

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