Myths and Facts of Foreclosure

February 1, 2011 (Chris Moore)
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There are many misconceptions concerning the issue of foreclosure. Unfortunately these misconceptions have lead many homeowners to take all the wrong actions in trying to stop foreclosure, which ultimately could cause them to lose their homes.

Here’s a list of five common foreclosure myths:

Myth #1: I should stop paying my mortgage so I can get assistance with my mortgage payments.

Fact: Stopping payment on your mortgage only hurts your situation and can expose you to foreclosure and credit difficulties that could require years to rebuild. As soon as you think you may fall behind on your mortgage payments, contact your lender.

You can also contact a HUD-approved housing counselor by calling the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673).

If you can financially afford to make your mortgage payments, you should do so for the following reasons:
– Making your mortgage payments helps protect your good credit.
– If you are discussing a loan modification or other foreclosure alternative with your lender, and your lender subsequently rejects either of those options, by continuing to make your mortgage payments, you will still be current and not in jeopardy of losing your home. However, if you stop making payments, you could end up losing the home to foreclosure.

Myth #2: If my house is foreclosed, I can never buy a house again, the foreclosure will stay on my record forever.

Fact: Foreclosure can have a devastating effect on your finances and you personally, but you can recover.

Use the time after foreclosure to prepare yourself for successful homeownership the second time around by:
– creating a spending and savings plan
– rebuilding your credit

Foreclosure is extremely damaging to your credit and may impact your credit rating for as long as seven years.

It may take a few years to qualify for a mortgage after foreclosure, but it can be done with some effort and planning. Find a reputable nonprofit housing and credit counseling agency to help you:
– document your goals
– obtain financial advice
– develop a plan to improve your financial situation
Probably the most important work you will face after foreclosure is rebuilding your credit.

Myth #3: If I’m late on my monthly payments, I’ll lose my house.

Fact: If you have a financial hardship and fall behind, it’s possible to keep your house and get back on track if you contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss your options.

You can also contact a HUD-approved housing counselor by
calling the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673).

Your lender can help you understand the options available to you so that you can keep your home and avoid foreclosure. These may include:
– Federal Making Home Affordable Program
– Forbearance
– Loan Modification
– Reinstatement
– Repayment Plan

Lenders do not want you to lose your home. In fact, lenders typically lose money in the foreclosure process.

Myth #4: I am getting many offers for help from a variety of different people. They are probably all scams.

Fact: Scam artists often target homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage commitment or anxious to sell their home.

First, always open and respond to communications from your lender, particularly if you’ve already missed a mortgage payment. If you are in a financial crisis or facing foreclosure, make sure you work with your lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency to avoid common scams.

Protect yourself against common foreclosure scams, where a company/person:
– Asks for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify,
refinance, or reinstate your mortgage.
– Guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or modify your loan.
– Advises you to stop paying your lender and pay them instead.
– Pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any
paperwork that you don’t fully understand.
– Claims to offer “government-approved” or “official government” loan modifications.
– Asks you to release personal financial information online or over the phone (when you don’t know the company/person).

Legitimate offers will have specific information identifying your current mortgage, including the loan number of your mortgage. If you receive a letter offering a mortgage modification or other foreclosure alternative from a company other than your current lender or an authorized agent of your lender, you should seriously question the legitimacy of the offer.

Myth #5: My lender is not responding to my inquiries, so I should just give up and face foreclosure.

Fact: Whatever you do, don’t walk away, and don’t give up.

Call volume is high, and it may take several attempts to reach your lender. It may take longer than you would like, which is why you should contact your lender early.

The process of obtaining a loan modification or other foreclosure alternative may require multiple calls and submission of documents between you and your lender.

Lenders have many process requirements to institute a mortgage modification or other foreclosure alternative, so the process will be lengthy.

Each of the forms and documents that you are asked to complete is required and must be submitted, regardless of any potential redundant information.

Tags: mortgage, foreclosure, loan modification, mortgage payments, credit difficulties, HAmp, credit rebuilding, HUD, homeowners, mortgage modification, foreclosure alternative