For many working families, our homes are our largest financial asset. But for a growing number of us, our home is only a paycheck away from being threatened by foreclosure. Millions of homeowners are struggling with mortgages that began with low “teaser” interest rates that now are resetting. Millions of workers have lost their jobs because of the Wall Street financial crisis and the economic recession.
For these reasons, many homeowners are at risk of foreclosure. If you can’t make your monthly mortgage payment, you are at risk. But it’s important to know that you are not alone—there is an abundance of free, high-quality help to guide you.
If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, here are a few tips.
The sooner you take action, the more likely you will be able to save your home. You have more time to explore options if you contact the bank that services your mortgage when you first have financial difficulty, rather than waiting until you receive a notice of foreclosure.
Although it is possible to get a mortgage modification by yourself, it’s best to work with an expert who can help you. Free help for homeowners is available from federally approved housing counseling agencies. Be wary of scams offering help for a fee.
The mortgage modification process should be quick and straightforward–but in reality it can take many months. Keep a copy of everything you send in because banks may require you to submit the same documents several times. Don’t give up hope, and stay in contact with your federally approved housing counselor.
If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage, you can request help from the bank that services your mortgage. Several different types of mortgage assistance are available.
In the short term, forbearance allows homeowners to temporarily postpone their payments without risking foreclosure. Your bank also may offer you a repayment plan to catch up on your late payments. Over the long term, homeowners benefit most from mortgage modifications, especially reductions in the principal amount owed on their mortgages, and from interest rate reductions.
Negotiating a mortgage modification requires persistence. Don’t be surprised if your bank gives you conflicting information or requests that you submit the same paperwork multiple times. Different mortgage modification programs have different requirements. It’s best to stick with it and seek help from a federally approved housing counselor.
The great news is that these federally approved nonprofit housing counselors provide help for FREE. In fact, be wary of scams that ask for a fee to help you modify your mortgage.
In short, if you are at risk of foreclosure, it is important to be well informed, understand your rights, partner with a reputable agency that can help you and stick with it.
Workshops Near You:
A Schedule of Upcoming Foreclosure Prevention Workshops
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
The Union Plus Save My Home Hotline
File a Complaint:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Legal Services Corporation
The Legal Services Corporation provides a directory of legal aid organizations that provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals, including help resolving landlord-tenant disputes, preventing foreclosures, renegotiating home loans, assisting renters with eviction notices when their landlords are being foreclosed on and helping people maintain federal housing subsidies when appropriate.
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association maintains a lawyer referral directory of state and local resources to help you find a qualified lawyer.
If you have been foreclosed on you might benefit from learning more about The National Mortgage Settlement. If you have had an issue with any of the banks involved, make sure to fill out the form to report it.