Homeowners should keep in mind that the bank or mortgage servicer they are dealing with is 100% able to stop the foreclosure whenever they want. Especially if the borrowers are in a judicial foreclosure state, where it is required the bank begin a lawsuit to take the home back, if the lender/individual drops the case, the foreclosure will stop immediately.
Before doing anything at all, though, homeowners need to decide if the home is worth keeping. Many people today are fighting to save houses they can not afford in the long run. If borrowers are fighting for such a home, they are ultimately going to lose anyway. It may be better to cut their losses and move on. This is the same for those homeowners who are fighting to save a home that is worth less than the mortgage. Just negotiate a short sale or deed in lieu and move on with life.
If you have decided to keep your home, then keep reading.
Since you are dealing with an individual, you need to to come to an agreement with him or her that will allow you to repay the arrears and get caught up on your payments. If you were with a traditional lender, a loan modification would be your best option to save the home. But there are no rules/laws forcing anyone to grant you a modification.
Your very first option should be to try and come up with the amount you are behind. In many cases, you can raise this money with odd jobs, personal loans from relatives, and by selling unused items. I would start by getting donations from relatives, church, and social groups and having a garage sale to sell as much stuff as possible. Don’t worry about your personal belongings, as you can replace them once you are back on your feet again.
You should also be cutting your expenses to a minimum. Get rid of cable TV and stop shopping for anything. Wear old clothes if necessary and eat the food in your house, rather than going out to eat or buying new stuff at the grocery store. Just keep the necessities that are required to keep your family healthy and don’t do anything that would cost you your job.
During this time, you need to be negotiating with the mortgage holder to stop the foreclosure. You will need to negotiate a repayment plan that is more favorable than him taking the home away. Another good idea is to find out the current value of the home. There is a very good chance that you are currently paying more than the home is worth. If they realize this, it may be an incentive to keep you in the home. You ideally want to arrange a repayment plan that allows you to make your normal mortgage payment, along with extra to pay off the arrears.
If you can not afford this right now, you need to have a plan that will allow you to make these payments in the very near future. My guess is that you have had issues making payments on time in the past and this is why they are unwilling to help you now. I only say this because most lenders do not want to take a home away. It a huge expense and a lot of work for the average lender. They must have a good reason for wanting to take the home back. Regardless of the reason, you need to convince them that you will make all your future payments on time. Showing them proof of this, such as a second job, would help them believe you.
If you fail to raise the money and the lender is unwilling to cooperate, then you need to take a more drastic step. This will involve getting an attorney and using the threat of legal action to force them into a repayment plan. This action could also be used to buy enough time to raise the money needed to pay the arrears.
To start, you will need to gather as much information about the case as possible, such as the original loan docs and the appraisal. Some people hang on to these records or you may have to contact the broker and appraiser who worked on the case originally. No one is required to turn these documents over to you, so you’ll have to be nice and use a little social engineering to get what you want. You will be trying to prove that you are a victim of predatory lending, so don’t expect your current lender to hand over any evidence.
A “forensic loan audit” might be a good thing to pay for at this time. They cost about $250 and will reveal any problems when you originally got your loan. Once you are armed with this information, you can go to the lender and use the threat of a lawsuit as a negotiating tactic. Showing proof that you are, in fact, a victim should be enough for them to want to keep the case out of court.
If the lender still refuses to negotiate with you, your last hope would be to take the case to court. I would highly recommend hiring an attorney for this, but it is possible to do it on your own. Once you get this far in the process, you’ll need more info to continue, so either ask for more help or get an attorney who specializes in lender fraud.
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