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 April 23, 2010

Community

Fort McCoy workshop presents
mortgage information

Personnel in the Fort McCoy community who are thinking of buying a house, having trouble paying their mortgages, or who need any other type of service to plan a successful financial future can use the services in the Army Community Service (ACS) Financial Readiness Program.

Bryan Clarkin, Fort McCoy ACS Financial Readiness program manager, said an April 20 mortgage workshop brought several experts to the installation to talk about various mortgage options.

A Homeowners’ Assistance Program representative from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talked about options for Soldiers and civilians who qualify for assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Eligible personnel include those who were wounded, injured or became ill when deployed, surviving spouses of those killed while deployed on or after Sept. 11, 2001, military and civilian personnel assigned to organizations affected by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure and servicemembers required to permanently relocate during the home mortgage crisis through Sept. 30, 2010.

A senior loan specialist from the regional U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in St. Paul, Minn., presented information about federal VA mortgage products and services available to veterans, and a representative from RIA Federal Credit Union also talked about products and services available to RIA members.

“They brought a lot of valuable information to Fort McCoy,” Clarkin said.

“I can use the information they presented to help refer eligible people to the right agency, Web site, or give them a telephone number of someone to contact for more assistance.”

Clarkin also has a number of resources available at ACS to help personnel successfully navigate financial obstacles. As a government employee, he has no biases or conflicts of interest in identifying solutions as might a financial representatives from a commercial financial company or agency.

For example, he can help provide basic information about home mortgages. Clarkin said VA loans have more rigorous conditions than regular commercial loans so they are harder to foreclose if a veteran is behind on his mortgage payments. VA loans also can offer reduced or no down payments to qualified personnel in exchange for slightly higher fees, which can make them a good bargain.

At the same time, people need to ensure they are getting mortgages they can afford at the best terms possible. Clarkin said this includes determining the right length of a mortgage.

Mortgage length is important because even though payments may be more expensive for a shorter- versus longer-duration mortgage, the interest rate usually is lower for the shorter term. That results in a substantial savings in mortgage interest payments over time.

“I have the resources to help guide people in finding reasonable solutions on mortgages that can include anything from loan modification to debt settlement to the reorganization of finances,” he said. “And, if there are no other feasible choices, in addition to other financial products. I can review the options available in bankruptcy.”

Clarkin noted his consultations are free and, when necessary, he can help personnel find appropriate commercial services to assist with almost any issue they may face and, hopefully, help them avoid costly services and fees associated with some providers.

“I can help educate people about the options and resources available to them,” Clarkin said, “but I can’t make decisions for them.”

For more information about the Financial Readiness Program, including budgeting, repaying debt, etc., at Fort McCoy, call Clarkin at 608-388-6812/3505.

(See related story.)

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