If foreclosure looms, doing nothing is not a way out, according to experts. Here are 10 tips from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development on how to avoid foreclosure:
Don't ignore the problem: Doing so just makes it worse, because your home still may be accumulating debt until you confront your situation.
Contact your lender: Lenders don't want to foreclose, and while there are no guarantees, talking with a lender could be the way to reverse the process.
Respond to correspondence from your lender: The first notices you receive may have information on how to fix the situation. And later notices may contain legal information you need to know.
Know your rights: Contact local housing agencies and review the terms of your mortgage.
Understand your options: Information about avoiding foreclosure can be found at www.fha.gov.
Contact a nonprofit housing counselor: Counselors can help you better understand your situation, options and responsibilities.
Get a spending plan: If you keep better track of where you spend money, and cut down on unnecessary expenditures, it's possible you can hang on.
Use your assets: If you have something you can turn into quick cash, that's a possible way to bring your loan into balance and give you time.
Avoid foreclosure prevention businesses: Though they may be able to help, they often charge hefty fees, and the same information can be gotten for free from nonprofit housing counselors.
Watch out for scams: A group that claims it can immediately stop your foreclosure by having you sign some documents may be taking your house from you. Review all documents carefully with an expert or neutral third-party before signing anything.
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Here are some groups that can assist consumers who are looking for help to stay out of foreclosure, or want some assistance in buying a home:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: 559-234-1492 or www.hud.gov
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now: 559-221-0217 or www.acornhousing.org
Federal Housing Administration: 800-225-5342 or www.fha.gov
ByDesign Financial Solutions: 800-750-2227 or www.bydesignsolutions.org
California Rural Legal Assistance: 577-3811
Stanislaus County Affordable Housing Corp.: 574-1155
Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency: 533-1397
El Concilio: 523-2860 or www.elconcilio.org
Homeowners and consumers who think they may be victims of real estate fraud should contact the following groups:
Stanislaus County district attorney's office: 525-5550
California Department of Real Estate: 916-227-0864 or www.dre.ca.gov
Mid-Cal Better Business Bureau: 800-948-4880 or www.midcal.bbb.org