Are you behind on mortgage payments and need help? You’re not alone. From 2007 – 2016, 8 million people lost their homes to foreclosure. It was a combination of predatory lending practices, irresponsibility, and a poor economy that caused such a devastating blow to the American dream of home ownership. While those poor people had little they could do to stem the ever-increasing tide of lost homes, you, however, have options to avoid foreclosure. Largely, your options today are the result of learned behavior coming from the disaster.
The first thing to remember is that the housing crisis is not over. It has gotten better, to be sure, but there are still problems. You have to take steps not to fall into the quagmire. Home ownership hasn’t rebounded to the levels it reached in 2006 and 2007, which is likely a good thing. Too many people, swayed by “sharks in suits carrying briefcases,” bought homes they had no business owning and couldn’t afford.
Speaking of sharks, if one were swimming hungrily toward you, you wouldn’t ignore it. You’d get out of the water yesterday. The same holds true if you begin to notice a problem. Don’t ignore it. If you blithely go about your days “putting the notices back in the mailbox,” you are going to get into irreversible trouble faster than you imagine.
If you know that you’re behind on mortgage payments and need help, call your lender right away. In reality, your lender wants nothing to do with your house. They don’t want to foreclose. If they do, they wind up with a property that is worth far less than they will get from you over the remaining years of your mortgage. They want to help because it’s better for them in the long run. It’s certainly better for you in the long run if you talk to them and try to work something out. So, get on the blower and say, “Save my home from foreclosure!”
Your lender is also very busy and doesn’t have time to call you back with every little detail of your situation. Therefore, your lender will send you mail with updates and also with “tricks of the trade” on how to stop foreclosure sale date. Open them. Yeah, you might think, “Crap, MORE bad news,” but in reality, those letters will contain much information that you need to know. They might even contain an offer from your lender to renegotiate your mortgage so that it’s affordable for you right now, which is the important thing. Also, if it comes down to it, and you wind up in foreclosure court, “But, I didn’t know!” is no defense. To repeat, open the mail your lender sends you.
Speaking of court, remember that you have rights. They’re even in writing! Sure, your mortgage papers are thick enough to choke farm animals, but they contain a lot of information about your rights and responsibilities and also what your lender can and cannot do to collect your outstanding debt. If you don’t have a copy, your lender does. When you pick up the phone to talk to your lender, say, “I was a dope and misplaced my mortgage documents. May I have a copy please so that I can save my home from foreclosure?” The government in your state has important information, too, about timeframes and other aspects of foreclosure. Call them, too, and ask what you need to ask.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, provides financial counseling for the long term, and they specialize in foreclosure. Many times, this counseling is free, or it might cost a pittance, but the point is that it’s very easy and affordable to get such counseling. They can advise you on not only how to get out of the mess you’re in but also how to avoid such messes in the future.
One of the ways HUD helps most is to help you control spending and develop a budget. Many lenders want you at least to make a good-faith effort to keep your finances under control. Sure, the housing debacle happened mostly because of predatory lending, but “sharing the blame” is simply the way things are. If you don’t, your lender might not be very accommodating.
Aside from controlling spending, you can also sell off your “extras:” a second car, the vacation home, gaudy jewelry no one wears, or even such things as whole life insurance policies. Even if the amount you raise doesn’t cover your losses, your lender will appreciate your efforts to stop foreclosure sale date.
Very likely, if you’re nearing foreclosure, you’re going to have other unpaid debts as well. Call them, too, and tell them that your mortgage comes first. Have your lender talk to them. When it comes to you no longer having a place to live, you have to take care of your mortgage first and foremost. Your credit card company, book club, and “Uncle Joe who slipped you two grand last year,” will just have to get over it.
The Final Word
Finally, never, ever, sign anything without reading it first. Also, even if you think you understand everything, get professional advice from your HUD counselor, a lawyer, or both about anything you plan to sign. If you have exhausted all options and you just need to sell right now, you can contact us by filling out the form on this page. Also, go ahead and download a free eBook for even more steps on how you can stop a foreclosure here!
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