Lancaster resident Pablo Estrada almost lost his home to foreclosure three times.
After the interest rate on his home loan adjusted, the monthly payments shot up to $2,800. At one point, the patient resource worker for the county Department of Health Services paid a company $3,400 to negotiate with his lender for a home loan modification.
"I lost my money," said Estrada, 47. "I almost lost my property."
But Estrada, one of tens of thousands of people attending a Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America event at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday, said the "nightmare" is now over.
Thanks to the free program helping homeowners to restructure their loans, Estrada said his lender agreed to reduce his monthly payment, including property taxes and homeowners insurance, to $1,200.
"I can't believe the lender forgave $25,000 of principal and reduced my interest rate from nearly 8 percent to 4.3 percent," said Estrada, a married father of two young girls. "They did not add any years to my loan either. I'm very happy."
Bruce Marks, the founder and chief executive officer of NACA, said numerous people have told him his nonprofit homeowner advocacy organization has helped save people's homes, marriages and lives. Marks said about 80 percent of the people who attend the free events get home loan modifications from their lenders within 30 to 45 days. About 30 percent of those who attend get a loan modification on the spot.
The reductions are made through agreements NACA has with lenders to reduce interest rates, cut the amount owed and in some cases extend the length of the loan.
"We are able to have same-day solutions where homeowners are saving $500 a month and sometimes over $1,000 a month by lenders making their mortgage payments affordable," Marks said. "Sometimes, they reduce the interest rate to as low as 2 percent and reduce the principal."
The event at the convention center is the 22nd "Save the Dream" event NACA has sponsored throughout the nation. About 50,000 people are expected to attend the 24-hour-a-day event open through 6 p.m. Monday.
For those who have been frustrated by their lenders' response or denied a home loan modification, Marks said the event is a chance to sit down face-to-face with their lenders to get a lower monthly payment.
Although walk-ins are welcome, those who attend are encouraged to begin the process by going to naca.com and entering income and expense information under the "Home Save Program" tab. Attendees are also asked to bring recent pay stubs, other verification of income, copies of their mortgage statement and other documents. A complete list can be obtained at naca.com.
"Someone has to step up and say to tens of thousands of homeowners: `There is hope. There is a solution out there and someone is fighting for you," Marks said.