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Foreclosure Looming? Know your Options

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By Tiffany Brewington - Editor
Record Information Services
November 2007

Getting behind on your mortgage payments with the threat of foreclosure looming can be a frightening scenario for a distressed homeowner. Knowing where to turn for help or how to investigate possible options is sometimes the most difficult part. The foreclosure process can be confusing and overwhelming but should be taken seriously by homeowners to save their hard-earned equity and credit worthiness. However, despite what you may be thinking, there are many options available to homeowners in foreclosure. Here we’ll examine a few.
 
How Long Does the Foreclosure Process Take?
A lender doesn’t typically give the borrower a notice of their intent to foreclosure the property until the borrower is three months behind on their mortgage payments. The entire process typically takes about seven months before the property goes to auction. A foreclosure auction is conducted in public by the county sheriff or any judge in the county where the property is located.
 
What Options do Homeowners Have to Prevent a Foreclosure?
 
Request for Forbearance
You may be able to qualify for a short-term, temporary suspension of your mortgage payments, or a reduction in the amount of your mortgage payment, through a written repayment agreement with the lender.
 
Loss Mitigation
A loss mitigator can work directly with the lender to make negotiate arrangements to keep your loan in good standing and you in your home.  
 
Refinancing
You may still be able to refinance your mortgage even if you’re in foreclosure. As a new loan, the lender will still require proof of equity in the property, and you can expect new loan fees and higher interest rates.
 
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
Giving the lender the deed to your house and walking away is one way to avoid the hassle, time, and credit-damage of a foreclosure. The lender also saves the publicity of a foreclosure and the cost and time involved with repossession. The conveyance of the act must be voluntary by the borrower for the lender to accept it.
 
Bankruptcy
While in bankruptcy proceedings, the foreclosure process is stopped. This may allow you time to come up with a repayment plan to save your home or to look at options for selling it. The lender does have options during this time to reinstate the foreclosure, however, and although not as bad as a foreclosure, a bankruptcy is still a major step with lasting effects on your credit report. Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy just prior to a foreclosure auction is a common way to delay the sale. 
 
Sell the Property
Selling your home takes time, especially in today’s market with so many properties for sale and not enough buyers. However, you may work with an investor who will buy your home directly if you have enough time to do so. You will have to negotiate with your lender to accept a lower price from a buyer than what is owed. You’ll need to be prepared to move quickly once the house is sold as well.
 
These are just a few of the options available if you are in foreclosure. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and there is always help out there. You can avoid losing the equity in your home, being evicted by your lender, and damaging your credit, by evaluating your options and taking action fast.
 
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