How do I know if I'm at risk of foreclosure?
You don’t have to be seriously delinquent on your mortgage payments to be considered “at risk” for foreclosure. If you’re having difficulty making your payments every month, even if you haven’t missed one yet, you can still consider yourself “at risk”. For example, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and have very little discretionary income at the end of the month, you could be one extra expense or overtime cut away from missing a mortgage payment. Just barely scraping by every month could turn into a problem that’s much harder to get out of at missed payment number four than it would have been earlier on in the delinquency. Foreclosure is something that, while it should be prevented altogether, can be avoided even when you’re close to losing your home.
What can I do to save my home from foreclosure?
You’re not sure how you missed a payment, but you did, and now you’re not quite sure you can make up those payments before your home is in jeopardy. It may seem like there’s no help, but there is. You have several options when you’re facing foreclosure that could help prevent it, or at least guide you through it to avoid additional problems.
They may look like the enemy at this point, but honestly, your lender usually prefers NOT to foreclose on your home. In most cases, it will cost the lender more money to foreclose on your home then it would to help you develop a workout plan to keep it. It’s possible that, if you explain to your lender what your financial situation is, and express your desire to pay them back, they will be willing to work with you on a new payment plan instead of foreclosing. In fact, most companies have departments specifically established to help struggling homeowners. You may be eligible for a mortgage modification which could result in a reduction of your monthly payment, making it easier for you to maintain on-time payments. Click here for more information about mortgage modifications.
What a housing counselor can do:
One of our certified housing counselors, specializing in foreclosure assistance, will work with you and your loan servicer to determine what options are available to you. Every situation is different and not every lender will offer the same relief options, so it's important to have someone on your side to help guide you through the process. A foreclosure counselor will review all of your financial information, including income, expenses, and the reason(s) you're facing foreclosure. Call one of our certified housing counselors at (800) 757-1788, or complete the form above to schedule an appointment. Remember, even if you're not in default now, but you foresee problems in the near future, talk to a counselor right away. Remember, there is ABSOLUTELY NO COST FOR THIS SERVICE!
How do I protect myself from being taken advantage of?
There are companies out there that do their best to take advantage of your struggles and try to get you to pay them for their services without ever planning on following through with them. Keep in mind that HUD-approved housing counseling services are typically free, so be wary of any company contacting you that charges a fee. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlines the most popular tactics:
- Phantom Help – In this scenario, the culprit can claim to be an attorney or law firm representative. These people offer to negotiate a deal with your lender to either reduce payments or save your home. For a fee, these thieves will collect what they want, and vanish.
- Forensic Audit – Again, for a fee, “auditors” offer to have an expert (sometimes an attorney) review all of your documents in regard to your mortgage to see if your lender was compliant with the law. You are told you can use this report to avoid a foreclosure on your home, speed up the loan modification process, reduce your debt, or cancel your loan entirely. In reality, there is absolutely no evidence that shows these types of audits will help you get a modification or relief in any way.
- Rent-to-Buy Schemes – This scheme involves the promise of being able to rent your home until you can afford to buy it back at another time. You are told that, by surrendering your title, you are allowing a borrower with a better credit rating get new financing in order to prevent the loss of the home. These con artists make the terms so expensive, however, that you will not be able to buy your home back and will ultimately lose it.
- Bait and Switch – Hidden in a stack of papers for a “loan to make your mortgage current” is a secret document that has you unknowingly surrendering the title of your home.
- The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rule (MARS) has made it so that it is now illegal for any company to collect fees until an offer of relief has been made and accepted. What does this mean? You don’t have to pay until the company lives up to their promise of getting you results. But remember, and we can’t stress this enough, there are plenty of reputable non-profit counseling agencies, approved by HUD, that will provide you with best help at no-cost.