It does not matter if you are a one income or a two income family, today’s rocky and uncertain economic times can make it difficult for you to keep up with the pace of rising costs. You can fall behind your mortgage payments for any number of reasons:
__ You or contributing family member looses a job
__ You or contributing family member retires
__ Illness, especially long term illness eats into your savings
__ Death of contributing family member
__ Divorce or separation causes economic loss.
Whatever the reasons, you should know that there is help for those faced with this financial crises. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development site is filled with useful and undaunting information. You do not need a Master's or Ph.d degree to understand the advice offered.
What can you do to help yourself? Some tips from the HUD site and more:
- If you are in financial trouble, you should contact your lender as soon as possible. You know when you are heading for trouble, don't ignore the signs and hope for the best. Do not put off contacting your lenders. Talk to them, put your cards on the table and explain your situation. Most lenders do not want your home, having to take it back can be troublesome and expensive for them. It is better for the lender and for you, if you keep your property.
- When you get a letter from your mortgage lender, open it immediately. Do not let the letter lay unopened, each day it remains unopened and ignored will make your problems worse. Also, there is a chance that you are being offered a way to hold on to your home. Remember the credit crunch is troublesome for the lender and the lendee.
- If possible, you and your contributing family get a full or part-time job until your mortgage is caught up and you have put some emergency money in the bank.
- Know and keep up with housing laws and home-owner rights in your state. If you are not familiar with your housing rights, call HUD and get help from one of their free or low-cost counselors. For additional information visit the HUD site http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/econ/econ.cfm#6
- Don’t pay for foreclosure prevention help. Your first step should be to use information and services available from your mortgage lender and from HUD.
- Do not respond to anything or anyone who promises to “stop your foreclosure immediately.” Do not sign papers or other documents you do not understand. The document may take your home ownership title from you and put it in the hands of a scammer. You could very well become a renter of your own home, instead of the owner.
- Be honest with yourself and take a hard look at your finances. Are you holding onto some unnecessary expenses? During a time like this, you must be brutal and cut anything that is not a priority. When you are back on solid financial ground you can pick up your optional expenses again, or you may find that you get along just fine without some of them.
These sites may be helpful:
ACORN Housing. National non-profit ACORN Housing provides free housing counseling to low and moderate income homebuyers. They have HUD-certified, Fannie Mae-approved housing counseling offices across the US, helping families to achieve homeownership. Visit their site, www.acornhousing.org
Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tips for Avoiding Foreclosure. Visit the HUD foreclosure site, www.hud.gov/foreclosure
NeighborWorks America. A national nonprofit organization created by Congress to provide financial support, technical assistance, and training for community-based revitalization efforts. Visit their site, www.nw.org/network/foreclosure
The Federal Reserve. Foreclosure Resources for Consumers. Visit the Federal Reserve forclosure site, www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/foreclosure
The Homeownership Preservation Foundation. An independent nonprofit that provides HUD-approved counselors dedicated to helping homeowners. Visit 995 Hope for counseling guidance, www.995hope.org
When you are in your local library stop by the check out counter and pick up one of the free pamphlets titled Federal Citizen Information Center or visit the site here and click on the housing link, http://pueblo.gsa.gov/