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It may be possible to keep your home, avoid foreclosure

Going to court to fight foreclosure of your home is an available option, but in most situations homeowners will try to negotiate with the lender first. Resolving the dispute out of court may work out best for both sides, especially if it allows you to keep your home and perhaps salvage your credit score.

Hiring an attorney with experience in foreclosure defense is usually necessary to give you a fair chance to negotiate with the lender. An attorney can examine the evidence, including the loan documents, for errors and other things in the borrower’s favor. The lawyer can use this evidence as leverage to help persuade the lender that it does not want to take its case to court. The negotiation could also include a modification of the mortgage, to make it more affordable.

There are also programs for homeowners in trouble, even before they are officially in default. Several government programs exist to help. For instance, the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, can help reduce your mortgage payments so they are less than 31 percent of your income. Other programs include the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) and Making Home Affordable (MHA).

Not everybody qualifies for these programs, but many lenders have their own programs to help you modify your loan. Otherwise, the lender may agree to a repayment plan that allows the borrower to catch up on past due mortgage payments, based on the borrower’s financial hardship.

It is scary to receive notice of foreclosure, but it does not have to be the end of the world. There are usually options.

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