How Genworth Canada’s Homeowner Assistance can help when your home is at risk

After signing the dotted lines on a new house purchase, dreams of happily-ever-after take over. But sometimes, unforeseeable events can get in the way of those dreams. Employment issues, illness or damage can threaten homeownership.

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“Job loss, a reduction in hours at work, a marital situation or an illness in the family” are all examples of common life events that may impact a homeowner’s ability to pay their mortgage, says Nadine Rees, a homeowner assistance specialist with Genworth Canada.

“There could be mould in the house. I’ve completed reviews for files that had bat infestations in the house, or one that had snake infestations,” Rees adds.

Rees helps connect homeowners with Genworth Canada’s Homeowner Assistance, a program that provides temporary assistance to those having difficulty making mortgage payments. The help can be the difference between homeowners keeping their home or going into foreclosure.

“Nine times out of 10, they’re first-time homebuyers, they’ve done everything they were supposed to do — the house inspection, they’ve crossed all their t’s and dotted all their i’s and tried to get everything all in place,” Rees says of her clients. “At the end of the day, we want to try and keep the client in their home and help them move forward.”

After reviewing each case and speaking with the homeowner about their difficulties and their needs, Rees and the client will discuss possible solutions.

One such solution is a promissory note, “basically an interest-free loan,” Rees says. “The promissory note is totally open, they can pay it out anytime. They can make lump sum payments to it if they so choose.”

Partial payments, extending the amortization period, and recapitalization, or a combination of these solutions are other ways the program can help.

Plus, “there are no fees, no charges, no costs whatsoever for any service we provide for the homeowner as long as they have a Genworth Canada insured mortgage,” Rees says.

In rare cases, the assistance isn’t enough to save the home in question. Sometimes, the clients just want to sell the house and move on. In such cases, Rees says they do everything they can to help expedite the sale while keeping the most money possible in the homeowner’s pocket.

But most often, Rees and her team are able to provide enough assistance to allow homeowners to get back on their feet and back to normal. Rees says the successes make her job rewarding.

“When you tell a homeowner ‘We can help you’ and they’re crying on the other end of the phone … those are the best stories.”

Here, Rees offers her tips for preparing — and handling — potential financial hardship.

  • Know your payment dates. “A lot of people don’t know when their mortgage payment is due each month because it automatically comes out of the account,” Rees says. “Make sure you have the funds in your account and that there are no holds on them.”
  • Look — and plan — ahead. “If you think you might face some financial turmoil in the near future, then be proactive and seek help.”
  • Be honest and humble about getting assistance. “A lot of people say ‘I didn’t call because I was too proud’ or that they were embarrassed if it was a marital split,” Rees says. But not calling means potentially missing out on available help.

Get in touch with your bank (lender) right away. “Usually it’s better to be pre-emptive,” Rees says. “The earlier we’re aware the greater the chance that we can find a solution and prevent the mortgage from going into arrears.”

Related video:

How Homeownership Assistance Works

Related reading:

How to Ask for Help in Hard Times

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