Sometimes, the unexpected occurs. If job loss, unexpected medical expenses, or any other money problem has left you financially stressed and unable to pay your mortgage, you are likely worried about foreclosure. Before you worry, though, understand you have options. Understanding how foreclosure works is half the battle!

Know the Process Takes Time

The foreclosure process can take up to a year. Typically, your lender will send multiple notices of your delinquent payments before sending a recorded notice of foreclosure. The company must also publicize the debt and schedule a foreclosure auction, which might not even occur. The lengthy, complicated foreclosure process means you’ll likely have time to come up with the missed payments or to find alternative housing. Read your paperwork to determine exactly which process might affect you.

Call Your Lender

Call your lender and ask to speak to the Loss Mitigation Department. Make notes of the names of people you speak to and of the conversation you have about your late payments. Next, speak to a foreclosure avoidance counselor provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The counselor offers free information regarding how foreclosure works in your state, what your alternative options may be, and which financial documents you need to have on hand. Finally, let your lender know that you’re working with a counselor. It proves that you’re serious about finding a way to work through your debt and keep your home.

Research Government Programs

You may qualify for mortgage help from the federal government. The Making Home Affordable program provides options for refinancing and loan modification. Keep in mind that loan modification has a three-month trial period before it is permanent, and you’ll need to apply for these programs through your lender. Other options include Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Depending on which one owns your mortgage, you may qualify for a rental program that allows you to rent your foreclosed home instead of work toward buying it. Finally, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program may benefit you and your lender alike. It provides $3,000 for relocation assistance for borrowers and offers lenders incentives for avoiding foreclosure in favor of deeds or short sales.

Hire an Attorney

Sometimes, foreclosure is inevitable. If you know your situation is heading that way, contact foreclosure lawyers in Maryland or in your state. An attorney can walk you through the process, determine if filing for bankruptcy can help your situation, and be at your side during any required mediation processes.

Whatever you do, don’t try to hide under a rock when you’re facing foreclosure. While you know it is just nerves or stress, your lender is likely to assume you don’t care if you don’t communicate. By keeping in contact, you show that you are working to be responsible and clear your debt.