Foreclosure can be one of the scariest civil (non-criminal) processes known to the law. Along with eviction, foreclosure is unique in that the person or family being sued will lose their home and be forced to quickly pick up their lives and move on.
As attorneys that handle regular foreclosure lawsuits regularly, we have a lot of clients ask us the same question over and over again. While the question may be posed in different ways at different times, it basically boils down to this: “I cannot afford to pay my mortgage anymore, so what can I do to keep my home?” This article discusses several different ways that people under threat of foreclosure can either stave off the bank or plan for the future.
Adjust Spending and Finances
The first step that homeowners facing overdue bank notices or a foreclosure should do is attempt to adjust their own financial situation to accommodate mortgage payments. Getting behind on payments is one of the largest indicators of eventual foreclosure, so making changes to catch up is a good start to resolving the issue.
Consider prioritizing spending or selling high-value assets such as vehicles and rings. However, not everyone can make these adjustments types of financial adjustments for various reasons, and homeowners may need to try a different tactic.
Contact the Lender for Information and Guidance
The reality of mortgages that most homeowners do not realize is this: the bank does not care about nor want the house, they want money and the homeowner’s continued business. Often, when lenders do take a home in a foreclosure, they lose money in the foreclosure sale. Foreclosure is a last resort for banks and they will attempt to work with loan holders for as long as possible before initiating foreclosure. If the foreclosure process has not yet started, working with the bank to either modify or adjust payment scheduling may still be possible.
Open All of Your Mail and Respond to Notices Promptly
When bank notices begin to pile up, it can be depressing to think about the contents. Most people will choose to not open up any mail from the bank and simply ignore it altogether or throw it away. This is not smart, because not only will the homeowner not currently be aware of the state of their mortgage, but the homeowner will lose the opportunity to communicate with the bank about repayment.
As explained above, many banks genuinely want to work with mortgagors, not against them. If a bank sees a homeowner making a diligent effort to stay on top of the mortgage, they are more likely to offer favorable repayment plan terms or allow the homeowner to modify their existing loan, if qualified.
Be on the Lookout for Foreclosure-Recovery Scams
While this tip will not help homeowners recover from a possible foreclosure, it will keep them from digging a deeper hole. Many businesses prey on people scared of losing their homes by offering either “foreclosure advice” or “mortgage repayment seminars” that can cost homeowners a lot of money that they really do not have.
Rather than paying for services that may or may not be helpful, homeowners should put that money toward paying the mortgage. For those seeking some type of foreclosure advice, hiring an attorney is ideal; however, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers free housing counseling nationwide that may help provide the needed information.
Hire an Experienced Foreclosure or Real Estate Attorney
While it is possible for a homeowner to negotiate with a hostile lender without the assistance of counsel, it may not be the smartest route to go. There are many self-help guides to mortgages and foreclosures on the internet, but many are either not clear or offer contradictory information. Having an attorney review your case can provide much needed clarity. Additionally, foreclosure attorneys deal with banks on a regular basis, and therefore they know both how to negotiate with them and avoid any hidden pitfalls banks may use to trick unrepresented parties.
While attorneys can be expensive, most attorneys will offer free consultations so that homeowners can at least have a better idea of where they may stand with regard to their case. If you are facing an overbearing bank and a possible foreclosure, Law Firm of Yuriy Moshes may be able to help. We review cases for free from clients living in New York and New Jersey.