Foreclosure and How to Avoid it

Foreclosure occurs when the homeowner falls behind in monthly mortgage payments and defaults on the loan. The lender repossesses or sells the home in order to satisfy the debt.

The best and most sensible way to avoid falling into default and having the lender foreclose on you is to make timely mortgage payments. Several steps can be taken to ensure your capability to pay your mortgage on time each month.

Strategies to employ to safeguard against default

Purchase only what you can afford.
Shop around for the best possible mortgage term and rates.
Steer clear of non-traditional mortgage loans.
Live within your means.
Set up a financial budget and stick to it.
Set up a rainy day fund for mortgage payments in case of a financial set back.
Prepare for the unexpected and plan financial changes accordingly.
Don’t count on tomorrow’s income. Realize that your income may stagnate while your debts increase.

What to do if a foreclosure occurs

Circumstances change constantly. The financial climate fluctuates almost as frequently as the weather. Unexpected medical costs, a death in the family, the loss of a job- all of these can negatively impact on the financial situation of a homeowner. Therefore, the worst possible event, a foreclosure, might occur.

A foreclosure will have a negative impact on your credit rating and have long reaching impact into your future borrowing ability. Avoid foreclosure at all costs, even if it means giving your home to the lender. Either way you lose your home, but with the second, you maintain some credit worthiness.

Borrow money from friends and family to catch up on your mortgage payments. Only do this if you intend to fully pay them back and believe that you will have the means to do so. Agree to a realistic date for repayment of the personal loan.

Contact a housing counseling agency that has been approved by HUD. In general, these agencies provide free counseling. Additionally, they might be able to offer government services or programs that can help you out of this situation. In some locations, they might be able to direct you to local community organizations that give assistance to homeowners in need.

Contact your lender immediately and respond to any correspondence that you have received from them. Explain your current financial situation, the immediate outlook of your finances, and your need to rearrange your payment schedule. Bring supporting documents with you when you speak to your lender. This will help to show your sincerity.

Lenders may often attempt to remedy the situation with a little creative financing rather than go through the process of a foreclosure. After all, the lender simply wants to have the loan repaid.

Possible remedies to the foreclosure

A mortgage modification happens when the lender changes the term of the loan by adding additional months or years to the mortgage. In turn, this will lower the monthly payments and prevent a foreclosure. Again, the borrower must be able to show evidence that he will be able to meet the new payments.

A special forbearance is a process in which the lender arranges a repayment plan that works within the borrower’s current financial status. This might lead to a suspension of the monthly payments for a short time or at least a reduction in the expected amount. It is extremely important that financial documentation be provided that indicate the viability of this plan through the homeowner’s ability to meet the new payment schedule.

A partial claim involves a one-time offer from the FHA-insurance fund that allows a one-time payment to get the homeowner’s mortgage current. The homeowner will need to sign a promissory note in which a promise to repay the loan is made. A lien is placed upon the home for this additional amount of money. Two conditions exist- the borrower must be able to begin full mortgage payments and must have been at least 4 months delinquent in payments but less than 12 months delinquent.

A pre-foreclosure would allow the homeowner to sell the house for less than what is owed. However, the sale is not listed as a foreclosure, so it does not hurt the homeowner’s credit rating.

A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure requires the homeowner to give the home to the lender. Although the homeowner loses the property, he maintains some of his credit rating. The benefit will be realized later should the individual decide to apply for another loan.

Important points to remember

Make sure that you can afford what you buy. Make your monthly payments in full and on time. Make a plan and stick to it.

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