Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011
The Air Force uses visual flight simulators to train its pilots on proper procedures and prepare them for the actual experience. Virtual reality simulation models are used as therapeutic techniques to help people overcome their fears or uneasiness about certain real-life situations.
By personally interacting with a replicated environment, individuals become more at ease when they actually encounter the event and feel better prepared to make the right decisions. Fannie Mae is applying this same idea to foreclosure prevention.
The GSE has unveiled an interactive multi-media tool called WaysHome, designed to educate distressed homeowners about their options to avoid foreclosure, help them to make informed decisions, and motivate them to take action and seek assistance.
“In 2011, an estimated four million homes will be at imminent risk of foreclosure,” said Jeff Hayward, Fannie Mae SVP. “As we enter a new year, the company is expanding its efforts to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure — WaysHome is an innovative tool to help achieve this goal.”
The interactive WaysHome video goes live on Thursday on Fannie Mae’s KnowYourOptions Web site and is free to use. The innovative technology allows homeowners to put themselves in real-life situations that they can identify with, make financial choices, and immediately see the outcomes of those actions.
The video is set in a neighborhood that’s been hit hard by the housing downturn. Real actors play three residents of
the neighborhood, each in financial distress: one is struggling to keep up with her mortgage payments and is at risk of default; one has fallen behind on his mortgage and is thinking of walking away; and one has seen the equity of his home erode and now owes more on the loan than the property is worth.
Homeowners select to play one of the residents and, as their stories unfold, make important financial decisions for them and see how the consequences of these decisions play out. Fannie Mae provides helpful tips, tools, and links during the process, and users have the ability to go back and revise their decisions should their choices lead to a negative outcome.
“With a variety of financial hardships and other circumstances affecting homeowners across the country, making educated decisions is more important than ever,” Hayward said.
“It’s a travesty when people lose their homes because they don’t know or understand their options,” he added. “Homeowners who are proactive about working with their mortgage company, housing counselors, or using consumer tools like WaysHome have a significantly better chance of finding a solution that allows them to avoid foreclosure.”
Through video reenactment, WaysHome allows homeowners to experience scenarios that address a range of options for averting foreclosure that include repayment plans, forbearances, modifications, deeds-in-lieu, and short sales, with the ultimate goal of empowering borrowers to find the right housing solution for their situation.
In an effort to connect with homeowners who have not yet reached out for help, Fannie Mae will be promoting WaysHome on its corporate Web site, through the KnowYourOptions consumer Web site, and at a series of events in partnership with local faith-based organizations, non-profits, and industry groups in metro regions. Collateral materials and Web site content will be made available at no cost through Fannie Mae’s mortgage servicing and community partners.
Meg Simeone, Fannie Mae’s VP of marketing, commented, “We’ve got to try as many options as we can to reach as many borrowers as we can.”
DS News, By: Carrie Bay