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Home Foreclosure; Its Not Your Only Option

The economy has been less than kind over the recent years and home owners have been no exception. Many have had to blindly navigate themselves through the complicated foreclosure process without much guidance, and most importantly, feeling as though it’s become their only option. In most cases, there are options the homeowner has not been made privy to and, after properly defining and describing the actual foreclosure process, those options will be clearly defined.

Foreclosure

If you are three or more payments behind on your mortgage payments, your mortgage lender has the authority to file foreclosure proceedings against you. These proceedings would not only result in the repossession of your property, but they will also have a negative impact on your credit. Foreclosures remain on your credit report for seven years. The foreclosure process allows a mortgage lender to seize your property in order to pay off whatever amount you owe in payments. However, just because the lender files a foreclosure complaint against you does not automatically mean they will win. Knowing how to stall, postpone, and/or stop foreclosure proceedings may help you to keep your home a lot longer, and possibly even save your property outright. There are some things you can do to avoid foreclosure altogether.

Prevention

The best way to avoid foreclosure is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you find yourself in any kind of financial trouble, whether short-term or long-term, you should always notify your lender as soon as possible. You should communicate with your lender directly. Believe it or not, it is actually in your lender’s best interest to avoid foreclosure. Your lender wants to avoid foreclosure just as much as you do. Foreclosure costs the lender a lot of money and is a hassle and a headache they would rather avoid dealing with, if at all possible.

You and your lender may be able to discuss possible solutions before foreclosure becomes the only other option. You should inform your lender about your financial situation. If your situation is temporary, they may be able to temporarily freeze your payments. They also could possibly give you a reprieve until you are able to come up with a lump sum payment.

Modification of Terms

Another option you may have with your lender is to try modifying your loan terms. This option could bring about three different results.  One of these possible outcomes could be an extension of the amortization period.  This extension will extend the life of your loan, therefore causing the amount of your monthly mortgage payment to go down.  Another outcome could be a change in the interest rate. If your interest rate is lowered, your payments will become more affordable.  The final possible outcome is a possible switch from an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage.  If you currently have an adjustable rate mortgage and are able to switch to a fixed rate mortgage, this could save you a lot of money and make your monthly payments much more manageable.

Forebearance

A forbearance is a temporary way of stalling the foreclosure proceedings.  This will allow you to either pay partial payments or possibly even no payments for a specified amount of time, agreed upon between you and the lender.  You will eventually have to pay the full amount forbore, which may be in one lump sum amount or extra payments in addition to your monthly mortgage payment.

Hire Housing Counsel

A housing counselor is someone who works on your behalf to both resolve your financial issues and to help you and your lender find a compromise to avoid foreclosure. This could be a good option if the counselor can help keep you from losing your home.

Already in the Foreclosure Process?

If you are already foreclosure, there are ways to fight it. The first step towards fighting a foreclosure complaint is to file a written answer to the complaint. When you answer the initial foreclosure complaint, be sure to include your defense to the foreclosure in your answer.  You should carefully research the defenses to the foreclosure, and choose the defense to foreclosure that fits your specific circumstances. You should then submit your written answer to the county court where the lender originally filed the foreclosure complaint.

This involves demanding the lender “produce the note.”  Whenever you sign a mortgage document, there is always a promissory note that lenders are supposed to hold on to, that details all of the specifics of any original loan agreement.  If the lender cannot find the note, the foreclosure can, at the very least, be effectively postponed- if not stopped completely.

Sell

Another way to avoid foreclosure is to sell the house before it is able to be auctioned off. Although this option can be difficult, it is certainly not impossible. This particular option will also allow you to keep any equity you still have invested in your home.

Buy More Time; Question Everything

Consider questioning the chain of title. You will usually need a lawyer for this option, and it can be a bit expensive, but it can also be very effective. Whenever a property is about to be foreclosed on, a database attempts to make sure that the ownership of the mortgage is clear and unambiguous- from the time you signed the mortgage, all the way up to the present moment. This is the way the court is able to recognize the legality of the foreclosure. This database is called the Mortgage Electronic Registration System or MERS. This system was established specifically to track the chain of title.  Some courts are skeptical of the MERS’s legitimacy; therefore, if you can successfully question the database that keeps track of the chain of title, you may be able to keep your home.

In Arrears?

An option for those who owe a significant amount of monthly payments in arrears is to negotiate a deed in lieu of foreclosure.  With this particular option, you will not be able to keep your home, but you may be able to transfer the deed over to the lender in exchange for the ability to cancel your debt to the lender. The deed is accepted as “payment in full” on the loan.

Bankruptcy

A last ditch effort in avoiding foreclosure, is to file bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, foreclosure proceedings can be stopped with an automatic stay. However, this has a different list of consequences that may be less than favored.

As you can see, there are ways outside of laying down and giving in. With a little research and counsel, the best suited option can save you from your dreaded foreclosure. Seek the expert advice of a general housing counsel in your county to access the proper route for your family and home.

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