When you're looking for free foreclosure help, make sure the person or organization assisting you actually has your best interests in mind. People facing foreclosure are in a vulnerable position, and all too often they are taken advantage of by companies claiming to offer help but instead offering a bad situation for homeowners.
When to Seek Help
The time to seek free foreclosure help is as early as possible. If you think that you may have troubles meeting your next month's mortgage payment, call your lender and start looking for whatever assistance programs you can find. Time is of the essence when it comes to keeping your home out of foreclosure, so you need to be proactive and aggressively pursue a solution.
Find Free Foreclosure Help
It's not the best idea to simply type free foreclosure help into an Internet search engine and then call the first result that pops up on the screen. The first sources you should contact are the organizations you already have a relationship with, including:
If you haven't yet fallen behind with your mortgage payment, your lender may be more than willing to adjust your payments or work something else out that allows you to stay out of foreclosure while working in tandem with the lender. Many lenders have programs available for borrowers who have already missed some payments. They offer these programs free of charge because the cost of initiating a foreclosure oftentimes cost much more than the cost of restructuring a mortgage loan. Although there is usually no charge for these programs, you may wind up paying extra fees or interest over the life of the loan.
If your loan was guaranteed through an organization like The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), contact them immediately upon realizing that you are in danger of falling behind. If you have already fallen behind, it is still appropriate to contact these organizations and ask for free foreclosure help. These mortgage loan guarantors don't want to see loans go into foreclosure because they will wind up paying quite a bit of money to the lenders. Both the FHA and VA have great programs available to assist homeowners teetering on the brink of foreclosure.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
HUD offers a wide variety of assistance programs for people facing foreclosure. There are Housing Counseling Agencies scattered throughout the country, and these offices are well-equipped to help people avoid foreclosure. There is no charge for access to these counseling agencies. Be sure to find a counseling agency through HUD instead of conducting a vague Internet search, otherwise you might wind up with an agency that attempts to disguise itself as a free assistance program but instead charges high fees or - worse yet - takes ownership of your home.
The Importance of Caution
Scams offering free foreclosure help typically work like this:
- The company offers free help to get out of foreclosure to desperate homeowners.
- A representative from the company urges homeowners to sign documentation, stressing the importance of moving quickly.
- The homeowner signs the documents, perhaps not realizing that he has signed the ownership of his house over to this agency.
- The homeowner suddenly finds that he no longer owns the home, and is either forced out of the home or required to make rental payments.
The trick that these companies use is that they either approach someone who is so desperate that he or she probably won't even read the documents, or instead the representative makes the idea of signing the house over seem like a reasonable solution to the problem.
Use caution when seeking out foreclosure help. Stick to organizations you are familiar with, and make sure that any counseling agency you use is directly associated with, and approved by, HUD. If you simply choose a random agency to assist you then you can't really be sure what you're going to get.