Many homeowners and landlords in Washington and beyond are concerned about staying current on their mortgage payments. During this difficult time where the economy has forced a moratorium on rent, it can feel impossible to keep up.
Thankfully, there are steps to take to protect your most valued asset and avoid foreclosure. Above all, be proactive. Don’t wait until you have to miss a payment to start negotiating with your lender.
Read on for a guide of what to do before and after missing a mortgage payment.
What is Foreclosure?
Foreclosure is the legal process of forfeiting a home due to non-payment. This means the owner will lose rights to the home and the lender will repossess it. Unless the debt is paid off or property is sold, it will go to foreclosure auction.
What to do BEFORE You Miss a Payment
To avoid foreclosure, it’s important to be proactive. It may feel out of your control but, fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your home even if you fear missing a mortgage payment.
Follow these steps before a payment is missed:
1. Call Your Lender
Check your statement for a phone number and contact your lender right away. Have a pen and paper ready to record all information about this call. E.g. Contact number, name, and ID number of representative, date, and time of call, what is said.
2. Open and Respond to Mail
It is important to be responsive and cooperative with your lender. Be sure to open the mail and get back to them promptly.
3. Get It In Writing and Follow Up
When discussing the situation with your lender, be sure to request any agreement in writing. Lenders are legally required to go through various steps and provide in writing proof of notice, claims, and soldier and sailors’ relief. Follow up with your lender to keep in contact and discuss options.
4. Check Your Budget
One way to avoid foreclosure is to reallocate money to pay your mortgage. Consider if you can miss a payment elsewhere or cancel a subscription you are not using.
Be sure to follow the above steps before missing a payment! To navigate this complicated process you may want to contact a foreclosure attorney in Washington.
What to do AFTER You Miss a Payment
If you do miss a payment, the following will explain what to expect and what you can do moving forward.
After a missed payment, lenders send out a notice alerting the owner of the missed payment and explaining when pre-foreclosure will begin if no payments are made. This notice will list options including the opportunity of a meet and confer. This is a meeting between you and the services to discuss a resolution.
After one missed payment, you will have 2 more missed payments before you are put in default. Once in default, it can trigger the foreclosure process. Then, you may receive a Notice of Default.
Notice of Default
If you have an owner-occupied property you can be referred by a housing counselor or attorney to the WA Foreclosure Fairness Act Mediation program. This is an opportunity to have an in-person meeting with your lender (or a representative with authority) and a state-appointed mediator, along with your advocate, to try to work out a resolution. The program also allows you no less than 70 days of protection where the servicer can not proceed with foreclosure.
Failure to Respond
If you don’t respond to the Notice of Default or are not referred to mediation, you can receive a Notice of Trustee sale as soon as 30 days after the Notice of Default. You then have only 23 days to be referred to mediation. If you miss that date and do not resolve the mortgage situation or file a lawsuit, your home can be sold at a trustee sale.
Beware of Foreclosure Scams
Be cognizant of possible scams that will appear legitimate. Scammers will take advantage of homeowners and landlords in their vulnerable state to make claims and promises that wouldn’t normally be made to get your information and payment.
To avoid scams, look for the warning signs:
- Organizations that require advance payment or that guarantee to fix your foreclosure problems
- Offers that help gets a loan modification through the HAMP program (this expired in 2017).
- Phone calls asking for information
- Mail asking for payment to address that does not match mortgage statement
Avoid Foreclosure with Our Help
Again, doing something early and working to resolve the problem is your best bet. With the help of housing counselors, attorneys, and advocates you can work with your lender and have a positive outcome.
If you still need guidance, call the Law Office of Jeff Jared. As trusted foreclosure defense attorneys in Kirkland, Washington, we will assist you in protecting your home and avoiding foreclosure in Washingon State.