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Foreclosure myths, debunked

June 24, 2011

Foreclosure myths, debunked
Although there are a number of programs available to help homeowners who have defaulted on their mortgages keep their home, the large amount of misinformation tends to result in troubled homeowners failing to contact their lender until it is too late.
Making sense of the story
Some homeowners believe, incorrectly, that contacting their lender early in the process will draw attention to their situation and result in a quicker foreclosure. In reality, contacting the lender or servicer is an important first step, and the sooner, the better. Contacting the lender provides the homeowner with an opportunity to explain their situation and the steps necessary to deal with it.

It is a common misconception that missing one mortgage payment will lead to foreclosure. However, the foreclosure process doesn’t begin until payments are 90 days delinquent. Lenders generally have a financial interest in keeping homeowners in their homes, so making contact as early as possible could help lenders modify terms of the mortgage or devise a repayment plan.

Once homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments, it becomes challenging to dig out of the hole. Some homeowners try to solve this by depleting their savings or dipping into their retirement accounts to become current on the loan. Most financial experts advise against this.

Delinquent homeowners may think they should stop making mortgage payments to get their lender’s attention, which often isn’t the case. When possible, homeowners should stay current on their mortgage payments and continue to contact their lender on a regular basis.

Homeowners who have applied for assistance or loan modification programs in the past and were turned down are advised to reapply. Program parameters are constantly changing, so the rules might have been liberalized since the last time the borrower sought help.

A number of free, government-sponsored housing services are available through the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A list of HUD-approved agencies can be found at http://www.hud.gov.
LA TIMES

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