There are several ways that homeowners can help guard against foreclosure so that they can keep their homes and avoid the negative consequences of this action.
Reasons for Foreclosure
When a person acquires a mortgage on his or her property, the loan is secured with the mortgage. If the person gets behind on the payments or otherwise fails to meet his or her obligations under the mortgage contract, the lender can take steps to foreclose on the home.
Consequences of Foreclosure
In addition to losing the residence, the homeowner faces many additional consequences if the property is foreclosed upon. The homeowner can be charged for the expenses related to dispossession and other charges allowed by law. In many states, the lender can still pursue a deficiency judgment for any difference between the amount owed on the loan and the sale price. Additionally, the homeowner’s credit will likely be significantly impacted by this event.
There may be several options available to avoid foreclosure depending on the circumstances, including:
Rather than selling the house at auction, the bank may be willing to work out some type of settlement that will allow the homeowner with the loan. In Florida, this usually happens before or during the lawsuit that is filed. It is always a good idea for homeowners to act sooner than later if this is their goal.
The lender may agree to modify the loan rather than foreclosing the property. A loan modification can make an existing loan more feasible by resulting in lower monthly payments, lower interest rates, more time to pay or unpaid payments added to the back end of the loan. In some loan modifications, the amount of the loan may be reduced. The lender may be more willing to work with a homeowner who has taken additional steps to try to meet the financial obligation, such as reducing other expenses or getting an additional job.
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
A deed in lieu of foreclosure results when the person whose name the home is in voluntarily signs the deed to the property back over to the lender. This can help the homeowner avoid the additional expenses related to foreclosure and the public nature of the proceedings. There are some disadvantages to this approach, so it is important that a person in this situation seek legal counsel.
One common way that a person can avoid foreclosure is by having a short sale of the property. Many lenders during the real estate crisis used short sales as an exit plan so that they would get more proceeds from the sale of the house than they would have received through a public auction. Once the homeowner receives a Notice of Default or otherwise suspects that he or she may have trouble meeting the obligation, he or she may consider a short sale. A short sale occurs when the homeowner sells the property for less than the current value of the property. The lender may agree to this arrangement rather than having to proceed with a foreclosure. However, the lender may still be able to seek a deficiency judgment for the unpaid portion of the loan. Some states do not permit this while others do. Individuals who are considering a short sale should be careful to negotiate an acceptance by the lender of the purchase amount and to accept it as payment in full. Even with this scenario, there may be tax implications to a short sale, so it is important
Filing bankruptcy can sometimes help avoid bankruptcy. When a person files bankruptcy, an automatic stay is issued which prevents further collection efforts. Therefore, a bankruptcy works to effectively freeze a foreclosure. However, the homeowner may still wind up losing the home in the bankruptcy proceedings if he or she cannot show that the debt can be repaid. So bankruptcy often works as a mere delay of the foreclosure. However, during bankruptcy, the debtor and the creditors may be able to work out an arrangement that will allow the debtor to repay some of the loan. The secured debt has priority over unsecured debts. Bankruptcy has many ramifications of which the debtor should be aware and seek counsel.
Hiring a Foreclosure Defense Attorney
Individuals who believe that they may be in fear of a foreclosure may wish to contact a lawyer. A real estate lawyer can help explain the process of foreclosure and evaluate the individual’s circumstances to determine whether there are any alternatives to foreclosure. He or she can explain the pros and cons of these potential alternatives.