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Alternatives to Foreclosure: What Homeowners Need to Know

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By : Mike Taylor    99 or more times read
If like thousands of other homeowners in America, you're at risk for losing your home, you need to educate yourself about what options there are to help you avoid foreclosure. To learn about ways to keep your home, read on...

Speak with a Housing Counselor from HUD

Certified, HUD-approved counseling agencies are located throughout the country, and they're there to provide free foreclosure avoidance information to homeowners. They can explain the new housing aid programs that have been implemented since President Obama has taken office, let you know if you qualify for any of them, and explain your options for avoiding foreclosure—everything from short sales to refinancing your home loan.

Housing counselors can also advise you on how best to approach your lender. Getting through to the department you need at a financial institution can be intimidating and time consuming, so it's great to have someone help you cut through the bureaucratic red tape and get a loss mitigation officer on the line.

There are numerous companies out there that offer foreclosure prevention counseling, but they typically require upfront fees. Many of them are actually nothing more than scams designed to prey on people when they're already down. Stick with agencies that are approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as their services are free and their information is trustworthy.

Talk to Your Lender

As soon as you start to feel the financial pinch, contact your lender. They are the ones that have the power to help you save your home, so you need to communicate with them as soon as possible. Don't wait until you're two months behind on your mortgage—try to work out a solution with them now.

The department you want to speak with is Loss Mitigation. It's their job to retrieve as much of the bank's money as possible, so they're often willing to work with struggling homeowners because it's in their financial best interest to do so. Remember that banks don't want to get into the real estate business. They don't want your home; they want their money, so they'll work with you to get it.

Loan Modification & Refinancing

If you've lost your job or have experienced some other loss that will affect your financial health long term, your lender may be willing to refinance your home loan or modify your mortgage. Both options can help you keep your home.

Loan refinancing is an option for homeowners who are still current on their mortgage payments, but know that soon they'll be underwater financially. Refinancing involves replacing your existing loan with a new one that offers better interest rates and lower monthly payments. The length of the loan term may be extended as well, which means that you'll end up paying more interest in the long run, but for now, your payments will be much more manageable.

Loan modification on the other hand, is for people who are facing financial hardship, who have missed one or more mortgage payments, and whose property value has diminished.

Modification means that the terms of your current loan are changed in order to reduce the current interest rate and lower your payments. If you've missed one or more mortgage payments, you may be able to add these onto the balance of your loan, which can mean a very timely reprieve for you.

To qualify for loan modification, you must prove to the lender that you have no other financial resources, and that modification is your only option. Keep every bill receipt and letter from your lender (including the post-marked envelopes), and gather all your income and expenditure information for the last three to six months.

You'll also need to explain (and prove) what happened in your life to bring about this financial hardship. Were you laid off? Was there a death in the immediate family? Tell the lender in heartbreaking detail about what's happened and why you need their help. While they're not going to forgive your loan out of compassion, they are likely to help you avoid foreclosure because foreclosure is a lose-lose situation for both of you.
For information on Seagrove Beach real estate, contact Michael Taylor, your Beaches of South Walton FL real estate expert, at

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