I had a situation with another servicer (also one of the 5 big ones) that was similar. The home owner has been unemployed for a long time and was running out of unemployment benefits the months after I took the listing. The seller had been in contact with the lender many times trying to get help, but was not offered any. They then listed the house for short sale. We got an offer right away and I submitted the complete HAFA short sale package along with offer to the servicer. When I followed up to confirm they received it, I was told the next step would be for the home owner to call in for an interview that would take about 20 minutes. No problem, they have spoken to them repeatedly and I did not think they would offer them anything as they could not qualify for any of the MHA programs. Then the client calls and says the person to whom she had spoken said she would qualify for the unemployment program and it would only take a few days to evaluate. A few days turned into 4 weeks and they ended up offering the owners a forbearance plan under a proprietary unemployment program (I don't know for how long). I only know that they never mentioned anything about this proprietary unemployment program before. They waited until we had a complete short sale package to talk to the home owner about an unemployment program. When I spoke to the servicer to find out details about the program, the rep that had been assigned to the file could not answer questions without having to first look up the program details. I asked if he could provide me with anything in writing about the program and he said "No." Since the program was proprietary and offered something that the MHA unemployment did not offer, I thought it would be nice to know about the program for future reference.
I have no problem with helping people staying in their home. The problem that I have is wasting time on listing a property for a short sale, finding a buyer and putting the short sale package together. I am not in the business of wasting time. I am not blaming the home owner and I hope it will work out for them. My issue is with the servicer that had many opportunities to suggest the unemployment program prior to the home owner listing the property. This home owner was not one who was avoiding the lender. She was proactive and talked to the lender repeatedly asking for help and she got none. Since the rep to whom I spoke could not answer my questions without first looking up the program details, I suspect the failure to evaluate the home owner for the proprietary program sooner was a result of lack of education on the part of the servicer's employees.
The good news is, SLS is a HAMP participant. The bad news is, I'm starting to think life is too short to make servicers follow the rules if they aren't inclined on their own. And that's really all HAMP and HAFA are, rules attempting to force good-faith conduct.
For clarification on what the servicer has to do under HAFA, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. When you've determined they are ignoring the program guidelines, email@example.com will get involved - and it will drag on forever. Google for the phone for the SIGTARP hotline is another option and someone with at least half a brain will get back to you.