Tips to prevent foreclosure

ASK FOR HELP EARLY

The sooner you seek the advice of a foreclosure counselor, the more options you'll have. The counselor may be able to negotiate with your lender and point you to available funds for help.

PRIORITIZE YOUR DEBTS

Pay your mortgage first after food and utilities. Eliminate unnecessary expenses, like eating out and premium cable TV.

KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDER

Contact the loss mitigation department, rather than customer service, to discuss possible solutions. Write down the date and time of the call, who you talked to, and what they told you. Ask for any solution to be sent back to you in writing before you agree to it.

SAVE YOUR MONEY

If your lender refuses partial payments, put away the money that you would have paid on your mortgage --- even if it means not paying your other bills. You can use it later to make an offer to the lender during negotiation.

DON'T AGREE TO A REPAYMENT PLAN YOU CANNOT AFFORD

Struggling homeowners may think they can catch up on what they owe if they just "buckle down" on their spending. But adding more payments to your regular monthly bill may not be realistic. Ask your lender to modify the terms of your loan, such as the interest rate or the type of mortgage, to make it affordable.

BUYER BEWARE

There are a number of scams promising to help you save your house. Investors may buy the house and rent it back to you, at a cost so high that you can't afford it. Another scam promises to process your foreclosure if you pay them $1,000 and "walk away."

Sources: Acorn Housing Corp., City of St. Paul.

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