3 Things a Lender Must Do Before Foreclosing on Your Home

Are you behind on your mortgage? You're not alone. Many homeowners fall behind on their mortgages, often because of unexpected events like a serious injury or illness or even a job loss. Falling behind on a mortgage can be an extremely stressful situation. You may be worried about your credit and whether you may even lose your home.

Most lenders ultimately don't want to foreclose. Usually, they'd prefer to find a solution where you can catch up on your mortgage. However, if it does get to the point where foreclosure is possible, it's important that you know your rights. Here are three things that every lender must do before foreclosing on a home. If your lender doesn't take these steps, you may be able to defend against the foreclosure in court.

Provide advance notice. Your lender must give you plenty of notice that they are starting the foreclosure process. They can't just show up at your house and foreclose. The rules vary by state, but you usually have at least a month and sometimes even longer before you lose control of the home. The purpose of this notice is to give you time to take action. If you get a foreclosure notice from your lender, don't ignore it. The problem won't go away on its own. Use that time to find alternative solutions.

Consider every alternative. Lenders are required to only foreclose as a last resort. That means they must reasonably consider every option you propose to remedy the debt. Make a good faith effort to work with your lender and find a solution. If you have an idea of how you could get caught up, put that proposal in writing and submit it to your lender. They can't complete the foreclosure while they're considering your proposal, so there's no downside to exhausting all your options. Make as many proposals as possible until you and the lender reach a mutually agreeable alternative.

Recommend debt counseling. All lenders must include a reference to a debt counselor with their foreclosure notice. It's up to you as to whether you go through with the debt counseling. However, some lenders will halt the foreclosure process while you undergo counseling. If your lender fails to provide a reference to a specific debt counselor in your area, you may be able to defend against the foreclosure in court.

Again, your lender likely doesn't want to foreclose on you. That will just leave them with a house that they need to sell, probably at less than market value. Work with your lender on possible solutions. Also, consult with a foreclosure attorney such as Legal Clinic Of Jerry Paeth. They'll likely know which steps you can take and they can negotiate with the lender on your behalf.