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Facing Repossession? Learn How To Stay In Your Home

Jul 2, 2008
Missing mortgage payments and being threatened with repossession is every homeowner's worst nightmare, yet every year thousands of people lose their homes. Lenders take court action to gain control and ownership of your property, so that they can sell it to recover the debt you have failed to repay. Your account is "in arrears" if you miss a mortgage payment, and generally after two or three missed payments lenders will start repossession proceedings.

The important thing to recognise as a homeowner threatened with repossession is that there are options to consider. If a lender takes action through the courts it does not mean that you will definitely lose your home. Refinancing your home may help, or you could always sell. Getting friends of family to help with the arrears is a further consideration.

Before you decide any drastic measures, the most important thing to do is to talk with your lender. Some lenders are more helpful than others, but help may include extending the term of the mortgage, switching to interest only from a repayment mortgage, or rescheduling the debt in another way. This may prevent the need to go to court. However, even if you can't agree a suitable solution with the lender, the judge at court is more likely to sympathise if you can show you have tried to solve the situation and not hide from it.

Assuming you do have to go to court, then its worth noting that although serious, its far less formal than you may think. Possession hearings are held in the county court and are in private rooms. The lender is likely to be represented by a legal clerk. You, the lender and the judge will all be seated at a table and generally hearings only last ten minutes. Its your opportunity to explain what's happened and aim to reach agreement on clearing the debt so you can keep your home.

Generally speaking, a judge will grant you a suspended order if you can meet future monthly payments plus a small contribution towards the arrears, or you could offer to clear the arrears if you can gather the funds together to do that. A suspended order means you can keep your home provided you meet the agreed commitment. Paying off the arrears means your account is back up to date so the lender cannot repossess it. Other options such as refinancing or selling your home are only likely to gain extra time to get them through if the judge is satisfied that one of these options is sufficiently progressed and will be finalised within say four weeks.

When considering selling or refinancing your home as options to remove the threat of repossession, it's important to consider that the element of control you have over them. With repossession looming, the amount of time available is short and therefore the more control you have the better. Refinancing will rely on the speed of a broker. Therefore shop around and get recommendations for a broker used to acting quickly for people in your situation. Selling your home will rely on a good estate agent that prices your property realistically and markets it well. You'll also want them to check out the buyers financial situation before accepting an offer to reduce risk of the transaction falling through.

At the court hearing the judge may allow you to keep your home via a suspended possession order. For example, if the judge thinks you are able to meet future monthly payments in full, plus a contribution towards arrears. This will mean you must follow this plan and failure to do so will allow the lender to gain possession without the further need for a court hearing (though in practice you could request one). If you present options such as selling your home or refinancing it, then the judge will want to see evidence that this is happening and that things are progressing and that the lender will get the money due to them within 28 days.

Repossession is a worrying time, but the key is to get as much information and advice as possible. There are a variety of voluntary and charitable organisations available to you free of charge to guide you through the process, answer your questions and discuss your options with you. Such organisations include your local Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter and National Debtline.
About the Author
Author James Bailey has a good working knowledge of the repossession process and has helped numerous people save their home in the UK. Find more information, articles and obtain a full report on the repossession process at www.repossessionhelp.info
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