This article was last updated on January 4
Foreclosure filings in the U.S. exceeded 300,000 for the sixth straight month as job losses that boosted the unemployment rate to a 26-year high left many homeowners unable to keep up with their mortgage payments. A total of 358,471 properties, or one in 357 households, received a default or auction notice or were seized last month, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc. Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate in August, with one in every 62 households receiving a filing. The second-highest foreclosure rate in August was recorded in Florida, with one in every 140 households receiving a filing, followed by California, where one in 144 households received a foreclosure filing.
With such a large number of household‘s facing foreclosure, many families need to seek external help. Fortunately the government has implemented a number of programs to help homeowners already in foreclosure or those at risk. Here are some useful resources to get real foreclosure help:
Your Loan Servicer (who you make payments to)
If you are having trouble making your payments, contact your loan servicer to discuss your options as early as you can. The longer you wait to call, the fewer options you will have. Many loan servicers are expanding the options available to borrowers thanks to approved state and federal government modification and incentive programs.It’s worth calling your servicer even if your request has been turned down before. Because servicers are getting lots of calls: Be patient, and be persistent if you don’t reach your servicer on the first try.
Also before you get into detailed foreclosure and loan/payment modification discussions with your servicer, learn about the foreclosure laws and time frames in your state (as every state is different). Contact or visit your state’s government housing office website to get the required information.
Talk to a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Counselor:
HUD-approved housing counseling agencies are available to provide you with the information and assistance you need to avoid foreclosure. As part of President Obama’s comprehensive Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, you may be eligible for a special Making Home Affordable loan modification or refinance, to reduce your monthly payments and help you keep your home. You may qualify for a loan modification if: your home is your primary residence; you owe less than $729,750 on your first mortgage; you got your mortgage before January 1, 2009.
See this article for more details on the Making Home Affordable program. If you are eligible for the loan modification or refinance program, the counselor will work with you to compile an intake package for your servicer. Foreclosure prevention counseling services are provided free of charge by nonprofit housing counseling agencies working in partnership with the Federal Government. These agencies are funded, in part, by HUD and other Government Programs.There is no need to pay a private company for these services.
For example, you can contact a credit counselor through the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), a nonprofit organization that operates a national 24/7 toll-free hotline (1.888.995.HOPE) with free, bilingual, personalized assistance to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. HPF is a member of the HOPE NOW Alliance of mortgage servicers, mortgage market participants and counselors.
Professional Help from Foreclosure Prevention Specialists
Contacting an experienced foreclosure prevention specialists could help save you valuable time and money, because they can guide you through the sometimes complex and necessary steps to prevent your home from going into foreclosure. However, to avoid getting caught into a scam (see this article for warning signs), make sure you proceed with a state endorsed company that has a long term history of operation in your local area.
Thanks to the large number of state and federal loan assistance and modification programs, there is definitely hope for avoiding foreclosure for many homeowners. But you must take the first step. Just make sure you avoid foreclosure scams and take action sooner rather than later.
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