This post brought to you by Fannie Mae. All opinions are 100% mine.
If the ongoing economic downturn has led to unemployment or a general decrease in your income, you’re probably struggling to meet your monthly home mortgage payment.
Whether you’re first starting to experience difficulties or you’re already in default, the KnowYourOptions.com site has the information and advice you need. The site, which is affiliated with Fannie Mae, is a credible, comprehensive collection of information to help you through your situation.
Before you make any rash decisions, check out the site’s advice about home mortgage scams, next steps, and the best options that are open to you.
Key Advice on Mortgages
1. Avoid Scams
When you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments, you’ll often feel desperate and reach for any help you can find. That’s why the “Beware of Scams” tab might be the most important one on the Know Your Options site.
You’re in enough trouble without falling victim to the myriad of foreclosure scam sites that exist today. Pay attention to the warning signs of a scam, like companies or sites that:
- Charge a fee for counseling services
- Guarantee loan modification
- Ask you to sign over the title to your property
- Tell you to redirect mortgage payments
- Advise you to immediately stop making your loan payments
Know Your Options has a hotline and plenty of resources to help you avoid a scam before it happens, or report one that you were a victim of.
2. Take Action
This is probably their second most important tab on the site. Know Your Options has advice for every stage of getting out of mortgage trouble, and the steps included are:
- Check to see if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae. If it is, you may be eligible for additional options
- If you still need further assistance (after contacting your mortgage company) contact a housing counselor
- Check out the “Financial Checklist” for additional tips
I know that the situation of being behind on your home mortgage or even facing foreclosure can be devastating, but the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem. Avoiding the issue will just make your situation worse – you need to act fast! Be sure to communicate with your lending company. They are probably going to be more willing to work with you than you might think.
Know Your Options is built, of course, to explain the different solutions available to you if you’re in mortgage trouble.
1. Stay in Your Current Home
This came as a complete surprise to me, but did you know that even though you may be behind on your current home mortgage, refinancing may still be a viable option? It’s true. You may qualify for a completely new loan, with new terms, lower interest rates, and lower monthly payments – even if your home value has decreased or if you currently owe more than your home is worth.
It’s part of the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), and that’s another good reason that Fannie Mae is making the information more available. Know Your Options will guide you through the steps for applying. Through this program, you can make your payment more affordable by lowering your interest rate or adjusting the terms of your loan – all without creating any negative activity on your credit history. Additionally, Know Your Options offers other options regarding repayment plans, forbearance, loan modification, and a deed-for-lease program. The key here is educating yourself.
2. Leave Your Home
Despite resources like the HARP, leaving your home may be your only choice. At this point, the key is to avoid foreclosure. Did you know that you have options available so you can leave your home and avoid foreclosure? I certainly didn’t, but Know Your Options has you covered here as well. There is the option of a “short sale,” which is basically selling your home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. If your mortgage company agrees to a short sale, then you can sell your home and pay off all or a portion of your mortgage balance with the proceeds. This strategy can eliminate – or at least reduce – your remaining mortgage debt.
Assistance for relocation is available as well, and you can start repairing your credit sooner than you could after foreclosure. In addition, the site also explains the option of a “deed-in-lieu,” which involves transferring the ownership of your property back to the owner of your mortgage in exchange for releasing you from your loan and monthly payments.
Additional Mortgage Resources
As I mentioned, the key to emerging from your current home mortgage crisis is education, and Know Your Options devotes a section of the site to this very matter. In their “Resources” tab, you can find answers to just about anything about home mortgages. They have contact information there for Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Centers, a list of foreclosure prevention events in your area, and a Forms section that gives you access to the paperwork you’ll need for any options you choose. They also offer calculators, an FAQ section, and tools for understanding your credit score – all of which will prove to be quite helpful to you in any situation.
Unfortunately, many people go through the perils of foreclosure on a home mortgage and don’t know too much about the process or what other options they have available. Know Your Options is an incredible resource. Browsing is free, and the information you can gather there is priceless.
If you are currently behind on your home mortgage or if you’re facing foreclosure, don’t ignore the problem. And don’t give up. Check out the site, or give them a call. They have options for you that you probably didn’t even know existed.
Have any of you out there had any first-hand experience with KnowYourOptions.com or other mortgage education sites? Share your experiences in the comments below.