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New tool to avoid foreclosure

he practical effect of the suspension on Long

he practical effect of the suspension on Long Island's market is that some houses in foreclosure will be boarded up for a little longer, extending the process.

WaysHome, a free online tool launched by Fannie Mae today, is the electronic equivalent of a choose-your-own-adventure book for distressed homeowners. Using an interactive video, borrowers can explore options for avoiding foreclosure and see how their choices would play out.

The stories take place in a neighborhood that has been hurt by the foreclosure crisis. Users choose one of three characters at different levels of financial distress, make decisions for them and see the results of their choices in a video reenactment. Tips, tools and links are provided, and users can go back and revise their choices to see the impact of different options, such as repayment plans, forbearances, modifications, deeds-in-lieu and short sales.

“It’s a great informational tool. I was very impressed,” says Maria Sanz, a HUD-certified couselor at the Long Island Housing Partnership. “It’s one question at a time, and you fill it out depending on what you need. Then you can go back on the page and answer it another way. It tells them about options they probably did not know they had."

WaysHome was developed as part of Fannie Mae’s “Know Your Options” initiative to educate homeowners. The online tool is not yet available in Spanish, though a Fannie Mae representative said that’s in the works. But much of the site’s content is available in Spanish. “The Spanish part is great, very easy to understand to a Spanish-speaking person who doesn’t have a clue about the banking terms,” says Sanz, a bilingual housing counselor.

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