Options to Avoid Foreclosure

By Lisa Phillips

In today's market, foreclosures are on the rise. We see reports in the news daily about the rising rates of foreclosures across the country. According to Bloomberg, Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Daniel Mudd said "the housing slump will last beyond next year, dragging down home prices and increasing credit losses. We don't think we hit a bottom until the end of '08 and then we have some period of time to work our way back up again.”

Many industry experts put the blame on “subprime” lending but we are now seeing homeowners with “prime” lending loans also facing foreclosure. A financial downturn can occur to anyone at anytime. If you are in financial trouble and cannot make your mortgage payments you have options. You don’t have to lose your home.

The good news is that lenders do not want your home, they want your money and the profits from your interest rate. If you are facing foreclosure act now by asking your lender about the following options:

Loan Modification

A loan modification permanently changes the terms of the original note. Mortgage loan modification may include decreasing interest rate, re-amortizing the remaining balance, or extending the term of the loan. Loan modification is also referred to as a workout or restructure. One of the biggest advantages of loan modification over alternative foreclosure options is that the interest rate can be modified to lower your monthly payment to one that you can better afford. You will probably have to request this option as lenders don’t like lowering interest rates because it affects their profits. Another advantage of mortgage loan modification is that it stops late payment reporting to the credit reporting agencies. It gives you a new start much like a refinance. You may qualify if you have recovered from a financial setback. When requesting a loan modification you will be required to provide financial documentation along with a hardship letter stating the cause of your short-term financial difficulties. The hardship letter may include unexpected medical expenses or loss of income and also how those circumstances have now changed, such as a new form income, etc.


Forbearance is an agreement between the borrower and lender that reinstates the delinquent loan through the payment of a lump sum or a schedule of payments over a period of time, usually no more than 12 months. The lender may add the amount in arrears to the mortgage payment for a short period of time until the amount in arrears is brought current. Depending on the circumstances, the lender may allow you to negotiate a temporary suspension of your mortgage payments, setting aside any payments in arrears or; the lender, may allow a reduction in the amount of your mortgage payment. As with loan modification you may need to prove that whatever caused your financial difficulty is short term and that you are now able to make timely payments. The drawback of forbearance is that it does not preserve your credit. Your mortgage payments will continue to be reported as “paid late” until you bring current your total amount in arrears.

Partial Claim

Your lender may be able to work with you to obtain a one-time payment from the FHA-Insurance fund to bring your mortgage current. Your loan must be FHA insured.


1. Your loan is at least 4 months delinquent but no more than 12 months delinquent;

2. You are able to begin making full mortgage payments.

When your lender files a Partial Claim, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will pay your lender the amount necessary to bring your mortgage current. You must execute a Promissory Note, and a Lien will be placed on your property until the Promissory Note is paid in full. The Promissory Note is interest-free and is due when you pay off the first mortgage or when you sell the property.

Short Sale

The lender allows you to sell the house for less than the outstanding loan amount, takes the proceeds and forgives any remaining debt. Your credit will not reflect a foreclosure.

Short Refinance

The lender forgives some of your debt and refinances the rest into a new loan.

Hard Money Loan

Refinance with a "hard money" loan. The interest rates and fees are extremely high and usually involve a private lender. Normally a short term solution to buy you time to sell your home or find more favorable refinancing terms while avoiding foreclosure.

Mortgage Insurance Claim

Your lender may be able to work with you to obtain a one-time loan from your mortgage insurance fund to bring your mortgage current. You would be required to pay back this loan to the insurance company over time.

Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure

As a last resort, you may be able to voluntarily "give back" your property to the lender. You won’t be able to stay in your home, but it is not as damaging to your credit rating as a foreclosure. This option is only available if there are no other liens or judgments on the property.

Lisa Phillips is a marketing consultant specializing in business expansion and development. Because many small business owners lack the personal and business credit necessary to grow and expand, she has developed a free website to aid consumers as well as entrepreneurs in rebuilding and taking control of their credit.

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