Options for Property Owners struggling with their mortgage

Owners of distressed or “up-side-down” properties are face with many choices on both a financial and emotional level. For the struggling homeowner it is important to understand that when they are in a “distressed” position any of the following could have negative credit / tax consequences.

1) Loan Modification: This is where the homeowner and the lender come to an agreement. A modification can involve reducing the interest rate, deferring payments on the loan, an extension of time to pay back the mortgage, reduction in balance, or a combination of all of these possibilities.
Note: According to the Treasury Department, only 9% of home owners eligible for mortgage modifications have actually had their payments reduced, Only 1 in 50 have had any debt reduced, 78% see their debt increase as a result of late charges / attorney fees / missed payments, 63% of modified loans end up back in default within 1year. So while this option can sound really great, most banks and lenders are not actually helping the majority of people who apply for a loan modification.

2) Foreclosure: Foreclosure is a legal process through which the mortgage holder gains title to the property form a homeowner show has stopped paying their mortgage. After certain time periods, the lenders can foreclosure with or without the consent of the property owner.

3) A deed in lieu: Also known as cash for keys. A deed in lieu can happen when the homeowner offers to “give back” the property to the lender before the foreclosure date. The lender gets the property back without having to go through the entire foreclosure process and agrees to accept title to the property from the homeowner. In exchange they forgive the loan, and can give the homeowner a small amount of money to walk away. The deed in lieu must be agreed to by the lender and the homeowner.

4) Bankruptcy: A legal action generally filed by a homeowner to have debt (s) discharged. An “automatic stay” happens once someone files bankruptcy, “staying” all actions against the person. While petitioning for bankruptcy can cause delays in the foreclosure process. It does not necessarily prevent a foreclosure from eventually occurring.

5) Short Sale: Many people consider this the best option because the lender agrees to let a homeowner sell the property at today’s market values as opposed to what is owed on the mortgage.

What options have you tried / seen work best?

To your success,

Oliver Graf

Real Estate Expert
Follow me on Twitter: Twitter.com/OliverGraf360