Home ownership can be a heavy responsibility at times... especially when times are tough. It can be challenging to find help when times are difficult due to a decrease or loss of income, illness, unexpected disaster or home repairs, or personal crisis such as separation or divorce. Add to that a reduction in home values, and the problem can seem insurmountable. While savings can help to alleviate some of the impact of these life events, it is still helpful to be aware of potential programs and alternatives offered to distressed homeowners, too. In fact in last month's State of the Union address, President Obama made reference to this struggle in home ownership, saying, "And while Government can't fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn't have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief."
If you find yourself in a no-win situation regarding your mortgage, it can be helpful to speak with your lender and ask about modifications that can be made in the short term. You can ask about the short sale process, too, and see if that may be a viable option for you. A short sale is when your lender agrees to accept a lower price than is owed on your property as payment in full. There is a lot of paperwork that accompanies this type of sale and it is helpful to use a real estate agent that has short sale experience with this type of transaction. In fact, some real estate agents and home buyers specialize in just this type of sale and can be a great help to you!
If you want to stay in your home, rather than sell, programs such as the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) , or the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) offered by Freddie Mac may all be options. Fannie Mae and your individual lender may have other programs that can assist you as well. Please click here to view a variety of tools on how to avoid foreclosure. Remember that you have options, if you are willing, able, and have the time necessary to explore them. Don't give up!