The economy is slumping, unemployment levels are high and consumer belts are becoming increasingly tighter. These realities, coupled with the subprime mortgage crisis, have caused many American families to be faced with the unpleasant prospect of home foreclosure.

The foreclosure process can be initiated by a lender if a homeowner is unable to keep up with their mortgage payments. The rules vary state-to-state, but generally the lender will send late notices to a homeowner for a certain period of time, usually around 90 days. If the homeowner does not respond to the payment requests within the allotted amount of time, they will eventually receive a Notice of Default (NOD).

The NOD essentially informs the homeowner that if payments are not made immediately the home will become the property of the lender. The home will then be placed on the market for sale and steps to evict the home’s residents will be taken.

Help in Avoiding Foreclosure

It is always best for a struggling homeowner to contact their mortgage lender as early as possible to make them aware of the situation at hand. There are occasions where a lender will agree to a loan modification and will work with a homeowner to restructure a loan.

Another option is the “short sale,” where an amount less than what is owed on the property is accepted by the lender. However, this doesn’t always mean that the homeowner is free and clear of debt, and the home must still be vacated by the residents.

When threatened with a foreclosure, it might be a wise move for the homeowner to hire a foreclosure attorney. Although attorneys do not work for free, it often makes a profound difference when a homeowner can present their foreclosure defense with the help of legal representation. Often, there are problems with the way your mortgage was recorded or sold to a successor company that can provide a legal defense to the foreclosure law suit.

A lawyer can help a homeowner map out a strategy and make them aware of all their options, including whether the decision to file bankruptcy might make sense in a given situation. They can also add credibility to the homeowner’s cause by acting as a go-between with the lender.

Families with economic hardships who feel their home is worth fighting to keep have a better chance of doing so with an experienced attorney by their side. It is often the difference maker in a lender’s decision to work with a homeowner in finding ways to avoid foreclosure.

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This blog is written and published by Godbey & Associates.