New Hope For Homeowners In Financial Trouble
It isn't surprising that home-loan defaults tend to increase when the economy slows. Some people who lose their jobs in an economic downturn simply don't have enough savings to make their monthly payments until they become re-employed.
Work It Out
Fortunately, missing a few house payments doesn't mean homeowners are destined to face foreclosure. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest financiers of home loans, have both taken a new posture on foreclosures. They've discovered that, in many cases, working out a borrower's financial issues is more beneficial for everyone than foreclosing on the loan. Now these organizations encourage "workouts"--revised payment plans that help homeowners bridge the hard times.
If you find yourself in financial distress and you're missing house payments, or you are about to, there are several steps you can take to avoid the foreclosure. First and foremost, don't ignore your lender. The earlier you tell the lender about your situation, the better chance you'll have of saving your home. Depending on your circumstances, the lender may offer you a couple of options.
A repayment plan tacks a portion of the missed payments onto subsequent payments. This allows breathing room for homeowners who have run into a short-term cash-flow problem, such as a medical emergency or an expensive car repair.
Loan modifications are most often used when borrowers have a more serious problem, such as overextending themselves with credit or losing their jobs. The modification plan may lengthen the amortization schedule for the loan, lower the interest rate or cut monthly payments.
Of course, nobody wants to lose their home to foreclosure. Not only does foreclosure rob you of the equity you've built in your home, it can take years to undo the damage late payments and a foreclosure do to your credit rating.
That's why it's so important, when buying a home, to make sure you don't overbuy--spending more than your budget can realistically handle. To ensure against foreclosure, you should also have a reserve fund that would cover several months of mortgage payments in case unexpected events play havoc with your finances.