Have you always made your mortgage payments on time, but are concerned that you may not be able to much longer? Or, have you just missed your first payment? If the answer's yes to either question, rest assured you're not alone. Millions of homeowners across
Unfortunately, far too many will do nothing--until it's too late. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), "Few people think they will lose their home; they think they have more time." The truth is that foreclosure doesn't happen overnight. But it can happen, if the homeowner takes no action to avoid it.
Fortunately, there are many resources that homeowners can turn to for help. To get a general idea of what you can do, start with the 'Avoid Foreclosure' section of HUD's website. There you'll find a wide variety of helpful information. One of the first is to recognize the warning signs that you may be headed for financial trouble. Changes in a household's financial picture can put a lot of stress on your monthly budget. Events such as an increase in your monthly mortgage payment or taxes, unexpected medical expenses or a job loss are common causes. Another warning sign is having to decide which monthly bills to pay on time - and which to pay 'a day or two' late.
If it's getting harder to make your mortgage payments, or if you've stopped paying altogether, take these steps today.
What to Do Next
1. Don't ignore the problem. As HUD advises, "The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan, and the more likely that you will lose your home."
2. Understand your options. "Foreclosure is always a last resort," according to Bryan Bolton, Senior Vice President of Loss Mitigation at CitiMortgage. "No one wants it to happen, and that includes your lender." So if you've already received one or more letters that explain your options to prevent foreclosure, respond immediately. If you want to learn more your options before talking to your lender, seek out the advice of a HUD-approved foreclosure prevention counselor. The service is free, because it's funded in part by HUD and NeighborWorks®
3. Contact a HUD-approved counselor. HUD's website includes a list of approved counselors in your state. Or, you can call 800-569-4287 to find a counselor near you. You can also call the Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline at 888-995-HOPE. It's a free service of HOPE NOW. Remember, there is never a fee for foreclosure prevention counseling through a HUD-approved counselor. Counseling agencies participating in HUD's Housing Counseling Program are not permitted to charge consumers for foreclosure prevention counseling. Beware of anyone or any organization that asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan, ask you to sign or transfer your deed to your home, or tells you to make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company.
4. If you're a CitiMortgage customer: Visit CitiMortgage Homeowner Assistance website. Several videos and other information on the site answer many common questions. If you'd like to talk it over, please call 1-800-888-6001. The hours are Monday through Friday, 7 am - 11 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 7 pm. All times are Central.About HOPE NOW
This is an alliance between counselors, mortgage companies and others to help homeowners stay in their homes. CitiMortgage was a founding member of this alliance, and we work with HOPE NOW and its Homeownership Preservation Foundation every day to explain the options available and help borrowers make the best choices.
When you call the 888-995-HOPE Hotline, you'll speak to an expert trained in preventing foreclosure. You'll create an action plan designed specifically for your situation. For example, if you qualify for government assistance, your counselor will prepare the paperwork that your lender will need. And then, with your permission, your counselor will contact your lender to work out the details and get your finances back on track. Best of all, the service is free.
The HOPE NOW website includes many free services as well, such as a self-assessment tool to see if you qualify for government mortgage assistance via the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). You can also find a list of events in your area designed to bring counselors and homeowners together. And if you're laid off or in the middle of a career change, the website has an 'Unemployment Resources' section that can direct you to job training assistance and help you get a fresh start.
The key is to act now, whether you've already missed a mortgage payment or are worried that you might soon. The longer you wait, the fewer your options will be. "And don't be afraid to call your lender," says Lisa Stampley, Senior Vice President of CitiMortgage's Office of Homeownership Preservation. "This is our job, and we're here to help. Every situation is different, so we work hard to create the best solution for every individual."