The most important thing you can do when you’re having trouble paying your mortgage is take control. In most cases, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Taking control means taking four steps:
1. Make or take a call for help Take control by accepting calls from your mortgage servicer. Even better, call your mortgage servicer as soon as you know you can’t make your monthly payment. The phone number is on your monthly bill. Tell your servicer why you can’t make your monthly payment and ask the servicer for help avoiding foreclosure.
2. Ask for expert help. If you can’t get what you need from your servicer, ask for expert
help from housing counselor. The counselors can develop a tailored plan of action and help you work with your mortgage company.
3. Slam the scam. Scam artists try to take advantage of homeowners who get into trouble by charging lots of money— thousands of dollars—for false promises of help. The help you need is available through a housing counseling agency for a nominal fee.
4. Apply for help Your loan servicer must contact you, provide you with accurate information, and tell you about loss mitigation options you may be eligible for. Loss mitigation refers to the ways your servicer can work with you to avoid foreclosure. If you send in a complete application to your mortgage servicer early enough, your mortgage servicer has to tell you the options you have to keep your home, or if it makes more sense, to leave your home. Housing counselors have a lot of experience helping people work on avoiding foreclosure. They can assist you with the complicated steps to understand your options and apply for help.
Your mortgage servicer can’t make a first notice or filing for foreclosure until you are more than 120 days behind on your payments. In addition, when you submit a complete application for mortgage help early enough, the mortgage servicer can’t start foreclosure while you’re being evaluated or if you’re following through on the requirements of a loan modification. So get it done, and don’t delay. The earlier you complete the application, the more protections you get.