What is Foreclosure?
Foreclosure is defined as a legal process by which a bank or lender attempts to recover a property as a result of the homeowner's failure to make payments.
Where Do I Begin?
The answer may be simpler than you think: start by contacting your lender. Most experts agree that contacting your lender at the first sign of trouble is your best chance to learn what foreclosure alternatives are available to you based on your circumstances. Avoiding your lender will only increase the likelihood that you will enter into foreclosure and possibly lose your home.
Be persistent. As the old saying goes, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Many lenders are dealing with a high volume of homeowners at-risk of foreclosure or in foreclosure and may not immediately respond to your initial request. Keep trying. Your lender is your first, best option to resolve your mortgage issue.
Remember, there are no easy answers. If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure, know that saving your home will not be easy - or necessarily straightforward. The good news is there are steps you can take right now to work with your lender and improve your chances of avoiding foreclosure altogether.
The foreclosure process can often be complex, involving financial and legal requirements that many homeowners are not experienced in handling. Seeking legal advice in these matters is always a good idea.
If you can afford one, consider consulting with an attorney about your mortgage options. If you are unable to afford an attorney, organizations such as the Legal Aid Society
offer programs for those who qualify.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is a government agency whose mission, in part, is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and affordable homes for all. HUD provides resources for avoiding foreclosure, modifying a loan and contacting an approved housing counselor.
Making Home Affordable.gov
Making Home Affordable (MHA) is a joint project between the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development. MHA offers a range of programs, including those designed to help homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments.
Federal Trade Commission
Like the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Trade Commission provides resources to both homeowners at-risk of foreclosure and those already in foreclosure. Topics include, understanding your mortgage, foreclosure alternatives and working with your lender.
Hope Now: Support & Guidance for Homeowners
Hope Now is a national alliance of housing counselors, mortgage companies and other parties who work with distressed homeowners on strategies to help them stay in their homes. Hope Now resources include a homeowner hotline, counseling and money management tools.
If Foreclosure Becomes A Reality...
For some homeowners, negotiations with their lender breaks down and a mortgage agreement cannot be reached. When this happens, a mortgage foreclosure action is the next step.
Perhaps the first question someone facing foreclosure might ask is, "where do I begin?" The first step is understanding how the foreclosure process works and what you need to do.
While every foreclosure case is different, each one begins at more or less the same place. First, the homeowner receives a legal notification that a foreclosure action is being filed against them. This is known as a summons or complaint. From that point, the homeowner has 20 days to respond to the initial complaint.
If the homeowner elects not to respond, after the 20 days, the bank can move for a Summary Judgment. That means the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff and a sale date for the home can be set. If there is no objection to the sale by the homeowner, title transfer and eviction can follow shortly thereafter.
Alternately, the homeowner can respond to the initial complaint, either through an attorney or as a pro se litigant. A pro se litigant is someone who represents oneself. If either of those events occurs, the legal process begins in earnest, with motions being filed until either an agreement is negotiated or a judge rules in favor of either of the parties.
There is no set amount of time to complete a foreclosure; some foreclosure actions can take only a few months, while others can last for years.
It's important to remember that the first days and weeks of an action are crucial because the court places time limits on certain actions and responses. For example, a homeowner only has 40 days from the date a foreclosure complaint is filed to elect the mediation option. Time is of the essence.
There are no easy answers. If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure, know that saving your home will not be easy - or necessarily straightforward. The good news is there are steps you can take right now to work with your lender and improve your chances of saving your home.
Rental Assistance Following Foreclosure
Due to the sharp rise in foreclosures during the past several years, many families have been negatively affected by displacement. If a foreclosure proceeding results in the loss of your home, regaining housing stability is a crucial step in moving on with your life.