12 ON YOUR SIDE ALERT: Loan modification help

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Millions of Americans face foreclosure and although Virginia is better than the National average, homeowners here are not immune. Many try to get loan modifications to lower their payments, but it doesn't always work.

A frustrated viewer called 12 when he worried he would lose his home. He's going through the loan modification process now. We reached out to these counselors with Housing Opportunities Made Equal or H.O.M.E., a HUD approved Housing Agency. They know that this experience can be quite overwhelming.

Joseph Murray has a home and a family to take care of. That job got really difficult when he was laid off. '"It was February 2009 as a matter of fact. The day they let me go was February the 12th," he says. His first thought his family -- then their home. "We were struggling to even get a payment out but were forcing ourselves to at least get a payment out," he says.

With little to no money coming in, he got behind on his mortgage. The news he eventually got from the bank was no surprise. "Eventually it got to the point where I started getting notices for the bank that they were going to foreclose because I was behind in the mortgage," he told us.

He tried to get a loan modification but his background as a former employee with the bank didn't help. Meanwhile, he was still over $20,000 behind. "He said $24,000 but said he would knock off $4,000, if you can get me $20,000. I am thinking where am I going to get $20,000 from," he says.

He negotiated with the bank, but was denied. Then, in the middle of our interview, a phone call from the bank. "Thank you God. There is a God up there. He made her call while you were here," he says. The bank says despite originally denying his case, it will give it another review.

Representatives with H.O.M.E say there has been a large influx of people needing assistance with their mortgage. It says the sheer number of people needing help has delayed loan approvals. If you fall behind, stay in touch with your lender and keep making payments. H.O.M.E. Counselors say if you can't, then talk to a counseling agency to see what options you may or may not have because some lenders may not accept partial payments. Don't wait until the last minute. The first sign of trouble, call a HUD approved counselor. The process can be overwhelming counselors can walk you through the process.

Back at the Murray's home, they hope that next phone call will be good news. "I want them to tell me they can help me some kind of way," Murray says. One important thing to keep in mind -- loan modification help should always be free.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.