First Person: 5 Things to Do If You’re Facing Foreclosure

By Stephanie Walker

Whether you’re in foreclosure or afraid you might end up there, now is the time to get in action. The prospect of losing one’s home is an incredibly difficult place to be and tends to inspire paralysis over action. I get it. I’ve been there myself. In 2009, my husband and I sold our Los Angeles home in a short sale, managing to avoid a bank sale on our home by mere days. It was a long process getting there and one that altered our lives completely… for the better.

Here are five things that made a huge difference for us:

1. Communication

I know how you feel. You don’t want to talk to anyone about the fact that you’re behind in your mortgage and you have no idea how you’ll pay it. In fact, talking about it is the last thing you want to do. But talking is critical to creating a positive outcome.

Communicate with your partner. Be open. Be honest. Be patient. Talk about the facts of your situation. Get to the nitty gritty of your finances. Stick to the facts and don’t blame. There is no room for blame. Own your own mistakes and commit to learning from the experience.

Communicate with your lender. Tell them you’re committed to saving your house, make sure they are aware of the circumstances that led to your default and talk to them about your options. You’ll want to know what you can afford to pay on a monthly basis before you request a loan modification. Call your lender weekly. Tell them that you’re calling to touch base and to see if any progress has been made with your request for a modification. Tell them you are committed to staying in communication and being responsible. Make sure that they note the call in your file. Make sure that you note the call in your files. Always note the name/ID number of the person you spoke with and the time and date of all calls.

If you’re anything like us, we were hesitant about telling our friends and family just how bad things really were. We were embarrassed. But, we were sure glad when we did tell them because we no longer had to pretend that everything was okay. And by sharing the truth about our situation we opened ourselves up to the support and love of our family and friends. Tell them now. Don’t wait. It’s not going to be easy, but you’ll be glad that you did. Let them in and allow them to make a difference for you. They’ll be glad to have the opportunity.

If you haven’t already, talk to a real estate agent and get a CMA (comparative market analysis) for your home. You’ll want to know what your options are and finding a real estate agent who has training in short sales and foreclosures is going to be your best bet. We had our house on the market way before our first notice of default arrived, but we didn’t consider a short sale until months passed with the house just sitting on the market.

And lastly, you’ll want to communicate with a HUD counselor. HUD is the Department of Housing and Urban Development and it has counselors that offer guidance free of charge. They can help walk you through your options and navigate this confusing time.