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I Struggle To Make My Mortgage Payment Every Month

The realization that there is a real possibility you may not be able to pay your mortgage is frightening.   Maybe your financial problems are caused by a job loss, the death of a family member or illness and medical expenses.  Or perhaps your income and expenses remain the same but your mortgage payment has increased due to having an Adjustable  Rate Mortgage (ARM). 

Whatever the cause of your financial anxiety, there are organizations and programs to help analyze your situation and determine your eligibility for government programs and mortgage modification and refinancing options.  Most of this help is available for free. 

The most important thing to know up front is how to recognize and avoid foreclosure scams.  Foreclosure scams not only cost you money but also delay the real help you need to avoid foreclosure.  Don’t wait to get help until after you have missed a mortgage payment.  It is easier to solve the problem before you are in default or foreclosure.

Confusing Options

The potential foreclosure avoidance options including grants, forgivable loans, and mortgage modifications and refinancing are many and varied.  Each federal, state and private program has its own eligibility criteria and participating lenders and servicers.  Program availability may depend on whether your loan is owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, whether your loan-to-value ratio is more than 80% or whether you are current on your mortgage payments.   Foreclosure avoidance programs are complicated and confusing.  You may be eligible for more than one and not know which one is best.  Your two main sources of help are your loan servicer and a housing counselor.  An attorney specializing in foreclosure defense is also recommended and will be familiar with legal defenses to foreclosure, mediation, reverse mortgages and bankruptcy.  A foreclosure defense attorney will also know the various foreclosure avoidance programs and can represent you in your dealings with your loan servicer. 

Housing Counseling

A housing counseling agency is staffed with trained specialists who can assess your situation, answer your questions, explain your options, prioritize your debts, help you apply for government programs and participate in discussions with your loan servicer.  You don’t have to go through the foreclosure prevention process alone.  There are expert housing counselors available to help, usually for free or at a very low cost.  Click here for a list of housing counseling agencies that work with Save The Dream Ohio, a foreclosure prevention initiative.  When choosing a counselor, beware of anyone charging large up-front fees or guaranteeing a loan modification or other results.  More than likely they are scam artists.

Contact Your Loan Servicer

A mortgage loan servicer is the company that you send your payment to.  It is usually not the company that owns your loan.  It is a company hired by the company that owns your loan to be responsible for the day-to-day management of your mortgage loan account, including collecting and crediting your monthly loan payments and handling your escrow account, if you have one.  Click here for more information about loan servicers.

If you have questions about your mortgage loan account, you would contact your loan servicer.  When you are having trouble making your payments, you should also contact your loan servicer to discuss your options as soon as you can.  Loan servicers get such calls all the time from homeowners and have a list of possible options that the owner of your loan has authorized.   But the longer you wait to call, the fewer options that will be available to you. 

For instance, the servicer may be willing to refinance your loan at a reduced interest rate through their own program.  If you have a loan that is insured or guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), VA or USDA you may be eligible for an interest rate reduction program offered through that government agency that is designed to lower monthly mortgage payments to no more than 31 percent of the homeowner's monthly gross  income.  The only way to find out what is available is to call your loan servicer.

This website provides general legal information and not legal advice.  The law is complex and changes frequently. 
Before you apply any general legal information to a particular situation, consult an attorney. 
If you cannot afford an attorney call 1-866-Law-Ohio (1-866-529-6446) or visit OhioLegalHelp.org for your closest legal aid office.