10 Ways to Avoid Foreclosure
If you or someone you know are one of the many unfortunate homeowners having trouble making your mortgage payments, you're not alone. Take heart, it may be possible to avoid foreclosure. I've worked with many homeowners in this situation and have helped them find alternatives to avoid the foreclosure process. Below are brief explanations of some of the options available to you.
If you owe more on your property than it's currently worth, you may be able to sell the property through the negotiation of a short sale with your lender. This typically requires the property to be on the market and you must have a financial hardship to qualify. A hardship is defined as a material change of your financial stability between the date of the home purchase and the date of the short sale negotiation. Acceptable hardships include, but are not limited to, mortgage payment increase, job loss, divorce, excessive debt, forced or unplanned relocation and more.
- Benefit: A short sale allows you to avoid foreclosure and salvage some of your credit rating. This also keeps foreclosure off your record and may allow you to avoid a deficiency judgment. You may be able qualify for another mortgage quicker with a short sale than with a foreclosure.
- Drawback: Short sales can be a frustrating and time-consuming process.
This means you have to pay all your outstanding mortage payments, penalties and fees - a difficult solution in our troubled economic climate. However, if you do have the funds available, it's as simple as finding out the amount owed and pay it. This solution does not require the lender's approval and your mortgage can be reinstated right up to days before the final foreclosure sale.
- Benefit: Does not require the mortgage company or lender's approval.
- Drawback: Requires that you be able to pay all back payments, fines and fees.
If you have sufficient equity in your property and good credit, you may be able to refinance your mortgage.
- Benefit: In some cases, this will lower payments.
- Drawback: In today's market, a refinance may raise your mortgage payments and requires paperwork and numerous fees.
Forbearance or Repayment Plan:
A forbearance or repayment plan involves negotiating with the mortgage company to repay missed back payments over a certain period of time. Under this plan, you will generally make the mortgage payment in addition to a portion of the back payments you owe.
- Benefit: Allows the homeowner to make back payments over time.
- Drawback: Requires that you be in a financial position to pay not only the current mortgage but also a portion of the back payments owed. Some mortgage companies will require you to qualify for forbearance.
A mortgage modification involves the reduction of the interest rate or the principal balance of the loan while increasing the term of the loan. This may result in a lower payment for you.
- Benefit: Can reduce the payment you are required to make on a monthly basis and may reduce the principal balance of the loan.
- Drawback: You must qualify for the new payment and are often required to obtain full loan documentation. Lender has to be actively pursuing modifications.
Rent the Property:
If your mortgage payment is low enough that market rent will cover it, consider converting your property to a rental and use the income to pay the mortgage.
- Benefit: Allows you to keep the property indefinitely.
- Drawback: You need to be willing to deal with rental and tenant issues; rent often does not cover the full cost of property ownership and maintenance.
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure:
Also known as a “friendly foreclosure,” a deed in lieu allows you to return the property to the lender rather than go through the foreclosure process. Lender approval is required for this option, and you must vacate the property.
- Benefit: Many times in a successful deed in lieu, the lender will forego its right to a deficiency judgment.
- Drawback: You are required to vacate the property and a deed in lieu may be reported to credit bureaus as a foreclosure.
Using bankruptcy as a foreclosure solution is an option only in certain states. California is one of them. If you have non-mortgage debts that cause you to be unable to pay your mortgage this may be a viable solution. Check with an attorney before pursuing this option.
- Benefit: Does not require lender approval and may reduce your non-mortgage debts so that you may be able to make your mortgage payments.
- Drawback: If you cannot afford your mortgage payment, a bankruptcy will only stall‐not stop‐the foreclosure process. Bankruptcy can be costly, is damaging to credit scores, and can be declared only once every seven years.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act:
(for military personnel only)- If you are a member of the military who's experiencing financial distress due to deployment, and you can show that the debt was entered into prior to deployment, you may qualify for relief under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The American Bar Association has a network of attorneys who will work with servicemembers to qualify for this option.
- Benefit: If you qualify, this will lower payments on all consumer debt in addition to mortgage payments.
- Drawback: Must be active military to qualify.
Sell the Property:
If you have sufficient equity in your home, you can list the property with a qualified agent like myself who understands the foreclosure process.
- Benefit: Allows you to avoid foreclosure and harvest some of your equity.
- Drawback: If the price of your home has declined since you bought it, you may not have sufficient equity to sell the property without negotiating a short sale.
This is simply a summary of some of the solutions available to you. You should always consider speaking with your CPA & Attorney for tax & legal advise.
If you are facing foreclosure and would like a free confidential evaluation of your individual situation, property value and possible options, please call or email me today. Sean@SearchGolfCourseHomes.com or 760-415-5075.