Former university professor of marketing and communications, Sallie is an independent publisher and marketing communications consultant.
Three Things You Can Do to Try to Postpone or Prevent Foreclosure
Many homeowners, when they receive a letter from their mortgage holder’s attorneys telling them their property is about to be foreclosed on, feel there is no hope, and they do absolutely nothing to try to stop the foreclosure process. In fact, one of my friends told me that she and her family simply moved out of their home shortly after receiving a letter from their mortgage company’s attorneys announcing a foreclosure sale date.
While there may or may not be anything you can do to stop a foreclosure sale, I believe you owe it to yourself to at least try to stop it. And since some of the methods I'm discussing in this article have worked for me, I know there are at least three things you can try. Even though my home is still in jeopardy of being foreclosed on in the future (I do some consulting work, but it is not enough to pay the mortgage regularly), I have managed to get the process postponed at least three times in the past, after receiving a sale date. How did I do it?
Okay, I know this subject is supposed to be taboo, but because I have been diligently and faithfully looking for work since I became unemployed, I feel absolutely no shame about what I am now facing. I know I'm doing all I can, and that's all I can do, therefore I can freely share my story with you. Of the three recommendations I'm discussing in this article, I have used (successfully) at least two of the methods to postpone or prevent foreclosure in the past.
Even if you either don’t have or don’t want to get an attorney to help you, there are things you can do yourself to try and postpone or prevent the sale of your home. Isn't it worth a try? After all, you went through the process of saving for the down payment on your home, qualifying for your home loan, getting approved for the loan, and I’m sure you or your spouse sat through a long closing process and signed a ton of paperwork. And I’ll even bet that you paid your mortgage religiously (as I did), for as long as possible. If you did all that then I think you owe it to yourself now (and your family, if you have one), to do all you can to try to keep your home.
There Might Still Be Hope
While the situation may seem hopeless, since there is always a chance there might be something you can do to get more time in your home, I think homeowners facing foreclosure should put up a valiant fight to keep what is perhaps their greatest investment, for as long as they can. I have been through the process of receiving a foreclosure sale date at least three times in the three years I have been unemployed or underemployed.
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To me, it just makes good sense to do everything within your power to stay in your home as long as possible. And in case you have not tried them, here are at least three things you can do.
1. Ask your bank/mortgage company for a postponement, and then stay in touch/keep the lines of communication open. I believe the most important thing I have done is to ask for a postponement of the sale date, after which I stayed in touch with the mortgage holder’s employees who are assigned to manage foreclosure sales and assist homeowners who are doing all they can to stay in their homes.
Visit your mortgage holder’s website and look for links to departments/personnel whose job it is to assist homeowners facing foreclosure. Don’t just assume that because it hurts your feelings to know your home could be taken, that no one at the mortgage company cares. While some mortgage holders are mean and heartless, it could be that just as many others have a “compassion component” built in to the way they practice business. It doesn’t necessarily mean they care about your situation as much or in the same way that you do, but they do care about customer relationships. In the world of business, “word of mouth” is considered to be the highest caliber of “advertising.” What kind of advertising would you be for the mortgage company if all you ever have to say about them is how terrible they are? Now multiply you times thousands. See? Word of mouth counts—even for banks and other mortgage holders.
2. Contact NACA to find out if you are eligible for help from them. You might be eligible for assistance from an organization called the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America (NACA). It is a nonprofit, and the organization specializes in helping people keep or get a home. I used NACA's help once to stop the sale date for one of my foreclosure notices. NACA is especially helpful if you feel you have been a victim of predatory loan practices (such as if your home was sold to you for much more than it was worth, or if you were loaned more money than you are able to pay as a borrower, or you were charged very high interest rates based on race or national origin, not based on your credit history).
NACA may be able to help you in your fight to keep your home. Even though they were not able to help me in the long-term, they did help provide immediate help when I needed them. They were able to stop the first foreclosure sale date that I received from my mortgage holder’s attorneys. For this reason, I believe it is always worth a try to contact them. You will have to do your part, filling out the necessary paperwork and maybe even attending a meeting or two, but I believe it is well worth it to get more time in your home.
3. Contact Making Home Affordable (MHA). If your mortgage is in your name and you are unemployed, you might be able to get help through the Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP). Depending on your situation, the government program, Making Home Affordable, has what is called the Unemployment Program (UP) that may reduce your mortgage payments to 31 percent of your income if you or your spouse is working, or it could suspend your mortgage payment altogether if you are unemployed, for 12 months or more. If you or your spouse are working, your mortgage holder might be willing to work with you through MHA to modify your loan (get payment amount reduced).
Just Be Sure You've Done All You Can Do
If you are facing either the possibility of foreclosure (as I am), or if a sale date has been set for foreclosure on your home, there might still be hope, so make sure you do all you can to try to keep your home. In other words, if you lose it, at least you will know you put up a good fight to keep it. And by all means, do keep the faith that your situation (and mine!) will improve while doing everything possible to stay in your home. Maybe, if you are facing foreclosure due to unemployment, you will soon find a job or a way to create income for yourself, and maybe you’ll be able to meet your obligations soon. Maybe you and I will be able to keep our homes after all, so that we can live in them happily ever after. And if not, perhaps God has something even better planned for the future, so I think it is always a good idea to stay in touch with Him too.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD