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The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made By Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

May 27, 2008
As a real estate investor in Central Florida, I've come across many homeowners who are facing foreclosure for the very first time and they all seem to make the same mistakes. When you have fallen on hard times due to a job loss or a mortgage reset, it is easy to feel depressed, helpless, and think "I'll just let them take the house". But you must realize that there are many solutions available to avoid foreclosure and save your home! The following are common mistakes you should avoid in order to prevent foreclosing on your home:

1. Paying For Foreclosure Prevention Services

Search the Internet for "foreclosure help" and you are bound to encounter countless foreclosure agencies that, for an upfront fee, will stop your foreclosure. Their fees will cost you thousands and many of these agencies just take your money and let your home fall into foreclosure. What these agencies do is contact your lender on your behalf and ask for a lender workout. A lender workout is a relatively simple process that you can do yourself and save thousands in costly fees. If you are interested in learning more about doing a lender workout yourself, complete with letter templates, you should consider this lender workout foreclosure solution.

There are numerous foreclosure scams being run through direct mail and the Internet. Before you sign any documents or send a check to anyone, you should look the company up through the Better Business Bureau, Yahoo, and Google for complaints. If you are asked to sign a "Quit Claim Deed" or any other documents that transfers ownership of your home, you are most likely being scammed. Should the company or person ask for a large upfront fee with no guarantee or contract agreement that outlines the details of his or her services that should also signal a red flag. Hang up the phone and walk away. You should always see everything in writing and have written guarantees from anyone claiming to stop a foreclosure for you.

2. Ignoring The Lender

Believe it or not your lender is your best friend during foreclosure. If you are facing foreclosure, the lender has every right to your home. After all you did grant them a mortgage on your home. The good news is that your lender does not want your home; it simply wants you to make payments on time so they can get their money back. You should maintain contact with your lender and explain to them the reasons why you have missed payments. Your lender may consent to a forbearance agreement, loan modification, or a delayed repayment plan.

Your lender will want to work with you because if you do foreclosure it will cost the lender between $30,000 - $40,000, the lender is not in the business of owning real estate, and foreclosures on lenders' books makes it harder for them to obtain low-interest capital for future loan portfolios. Do not stick your head in the sand by ignoring your lender, educate yourself on your options and then contact your lender.

3. Feeling Overwhelmed And Not Seeking A Solution

More often than not homeowners in foreclosure have pressing day-to-day life issues, and are simply too overwhelmed to adequately find solutions to their foreclosure. Many then succumb to fraudulent foreclosure agencies or unscrupulous real estate investors who cost them their home. If you have no equity, no savings, and are one or multiple payments behind on your mortgage they are simple ways you can stop foreclosure or relieve yourself of that hefty mortgage payment and find something more affordable. You do not necessarily have to sell your home or if you must vacate it, you don't have to go through the trouble of waiting for a buyer and you can still save your credit for a more affordable home purchase in the future.

4. Not Taking Advantage of Government Programs And Resources

The Federal Housing Administration has designed a program just for homeowners who can no longer afford their mortgage because of an adjustable-rate mortgage reset, or homeowners who are in "interest-only" loans are may now have to begin to make principal payments. You can learn more about the FHASecure Refinancing program at http://www.fha.gov or search for FHA-approved lenders at http://locator.fha.gov. You may also seek the counsel of a HUD-approved counseling agency at 1-800-CALL-FHA.

5. Not Having A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A foreclosure stands a good chance of being prevented or delayed if a HELOC was established before the homeowner ever missed a first payment. Unforeseen events such as job loss or medical problems will make it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain access to low-interest lines of credit , so it is important to have a HELOC ready for emergencies. A HELOC should not be used for frivolous expenses, but for real emergencies such as medical expenses or fees associated with getting yourself out of foreclosure. In the event that you lose your job, you can use the HELOC to pay for necessities until you are back on your feet and can repay the loan. Most HELOCs do not have a monthly fee if you do not access the line, so if you are in a position to set-up a HELOC you should do so as soon as possible.

6. Spending What Money You Have On Other Bills

Though it may seem easier to pay your utility, credit card, and cell phone bills before you make payments towards your mortgage the reality couldn't be further from this notion. After 3 or 4 missed payments the lender has the right to "accelerate" or "call" your home loan and insist on getting all back payments at once. If you plan to keep your home you should cut all of you unnecessary expenses such as cable and cell phones so that you can devote what little money you have to pay for your house. There are many methods to prevent foreclosure, and will you need to have cash available to cover expenses. Keep in mind that in order to get the mortgage company's consent to a forbearance agreement or delayed repayment plan you need to prove to that you made every reasonable attempt to make mortgage payments.

7. Missing Bankruptcy Filing Deadlines

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing will stop foreclosure dead in its tracks. However, you should explore all other foreclosure solutions and consider bankruptcy a last resort. If you decide that Chapter 13 is the right answer to your situation, then you should be sure to meet all filing deadlines and make all payments outlined under the plan or may end up losing your home.

8. Not Moving Quickly Enough

Time is of the essence when you are facing foreclosure. Once you begin to miss payments the bank can accelerate or call the loan, and you will then have to come up with all of the back payments at once. Or, if you are in states such as Texas, it can be only a matter of three weeks before you are forced out of your home. You should be diligently seeking solutions for your foreclosure

9. Not Being Persistent

If you decide to do a lender workout you will have to put a considerable amount of effort into gathering your financial information, writing letters of hardship, finding the right numbers to dial, and having the patience to sit on hold for HOURS while you await your chance to speak with a representative from the mortgage company. This will be a very trying experience and there is no guarantee that the lender will consent to anything you may suggest. Before contacting your lender you should have everything you need in order, including the numbers to dial, to ease the stress of this entire process and you must be persistent with the representative you are assigned (if you even are assigned one).

10. Not thinking creatively

Many homeowners assume that if they cannot make payments on their home their only options are to foreclosure or file bankruptcy. And even still, many individuals are not even sure how to go about those options. Before you jump the gun and quickly go down the wrong path be sure you have explore all avenues to get yourself out of your situation. Have you considered renting? Selling a fraction of your home for the amount in arrears? Have you spoken with a reputable real estate investor who may be willing to negotiate a deal so you may keep your house?
About the Author
To learn how you can stop foreclosure on your own, visit: The Foreclosure Solutions Manual and watch the free video that features 13 ways you can begin to take charge of your situation and save your home.
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