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By Charlestien Harris

The stress of not being able to make mortgage payments and other financial obligations because of the pandemic or any hardship can be overwhelming, but sometimes just knowing where to turn for help can give us a sense of relief.  The CARES Act allows the homeowner to request forbearance from their loan services for six months initially. They can request an additional six months if the loss or reduction of income issue has not been resolved.  There are several options available to resolve the missed payments and you can contact your loan servicer for further details.

When your mortgage is late, regardless of the reason, you need to take immediate action to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Here are some simple steps that can help you to deal with the process of restoring your mortgage to a current status. 

1. Call your lender or servicer immediately

The worst thing you can do is not address the issue at all. The earlier you contact your bank or loan servicer the more options you will have to bring your mortgage current.  Contrary to what you may have heard, the bank doesn’t actually want to take your house. Reaching out to the servicer early can be a sign of good faith in your intentions to fulfill your obligation and they are more willing to work with you for a credible solution. 

2. Try not to let your mortgage payment get 90 days past due. 

Partial payments may not be accepted after 90 days.  While the length of time it takes for a mortgage to be in default varies by lender and contract, the typical time frame to watch for is 30 days past due.  Once your payment is more than a month late, your lender will send you a notice of default and ask you to correct the problem.

3. Beware of companies that contact you offering “help”. 

I must caution you to be very careful about unsolicited assistance from companies the offer to help resolve your issue.  Some of these companies often try to take advantage of your financial situation. You may end up paying high fees and run the risk of your problems still not being resolved promptly or properly. The people calling will often state they are a specialist but may or may not have any special certifications. They may also make a few phone calls and send over paperwork to make the process seem legitimate.  Even if you initiated contact, you still need to be cautious.

4. Research the options available to homeowners that are behind on their mortgage. 

Learn as much as you can about the options that are available so you will know which option best suits your situation. To find out about your alternatives to possible foreclosure visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea04.shtm. This website will explain the different options available, the instructions on how to ask for a repayment plan, and which one is just right for your unique situation.

You can always contact a HUD-certified counseling agency for additional assistance.  Southern Bancorp Community Partners is a local HUD certified counseling agency and has several HUD certified counselors on staff that can assist you with this process. As always, you can contact me at 662-624-5776 or email me at charlestien.harris@southernpartners.org. Until next week, stay financially fit!