According to national data, the foreclosure rate on mortgage loans has increased by more than 50% since 2000. How did this happen? Easier access to home loans, an increasingly fragile economy, and trigger events, such as loss of a job, reduction in income, or a health emergency cause mortgages to suddenly be beyond the financial abilities of many homeowners.
If facing mortgage issues, nothing is worse than doing nothing. According to recent industry studies, more than half of homeowners facing foreclosure do not call for help when they begin to fall behind on their payments. The early stages of foreclosure are the most crucial and require fast action by the borrow – studies show that homeowners who are one or two payments behind are more likely to keep their homes than those further behind on their payment schedule.
Homeowners at risk of foreclosure are urged to take the first steps to avoid losing their biggest investment and to keep their home equity: ask for help and respond to the lender’s letters and calls. The earlier financially distressed homeowners reach out for assistance, the more options they have to address their mortgage issues and potentially avoid foreclosure. Lenders are often willing to work with a borrower, if the borrower makes an effort early on.
Ignoring the situation will not make it go away. Seek help as soon as you think there may be a problem.
Tips to Save Your Home:
1. Call Ohio's Save the Dream Hotline today: 1-888-404-4674.
2. Contact your lender. Even if you have not missed a payment yet, talk to your lender if you see a problem arising. Many lenders are willing to work with homeowners. You may be able to create a repayment plan, add the missed payment to the remaining balance, or modify the loan.
3. Open and respond to all letters from your lender. The sooner you deal with missing mortgage payments, the easier it is to find a solution.
4. Seek help from state and local resources that can help you negotiate with your mortgage company. Find a list of local resources at http://www.savethedream.ohio.gov/ or call 1-888-404-4674.
5. Document all contact with your lender.
6. Respond to summons in 28 days. If your loan servicer has filed a foreclosure complaint, you will receive a summons. You must respond, in writing, within 28 days! For assistance with a response or a referral, contact Southeastern Ohio Legal Services.
7. When faced with foreclosure, be sure you understand Ohio’s foreclosure process. Foreclosure may take anywhere from six months to more than a year.
8. Do not abandon your home. You do not have to leave your house until it it sold at a Sheriff’s sale. Continue to live in your house while you are trying to get help. If you abandon your property, you may not qualify for assistance.
9. Be aware of forclosure scams. Solutions sounding too good to be ture, usually are. Scam artists often target defendants named in foreclosure proceedings. They often assert that they are “foreclosure specialists” or “mortgage specialists,” claiming they will save your home from foreclosure in exchange for a sum of money.
10. Do not sign any document that you do not understand. Southeastern Ohio Legal Services can review documents that your lender may want you to sign to ensure that your best interests are protected.
Athens County Resources:
Athens County Job & Family Services
740-797-2523 or 1-800-762-3775
Provides basic foreclosure information and referrals. Prevention Retention and Contingency (PRC) program supplies short-term emergency assistance for income-eligible families.
Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development
Housing counselors are availabe to help with the foreclosure process. Rescue loans are available to help bring homeowners current on their mortgages.
Empowering and Strenthening Ohio’s People
Provides assistance in working out resolutions with mortgage service providers.
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services
Provides a range of free legal services to homeowners who meet the basic income eligibility.
State of Ohio Resources:
Save the Dream
Richard Cordray, Ohio Treasurer of State