Unfortunately for thousands of Pennsylvanians in the midst of the country's financial crisis, the threat of foreclosue has turned the American dream into a real-life nightmare as they struggle to keep up with their mortgage payments.
What Is Foreclosure?
Generally, a foreclosure is a process that allows your lender to sell your house to pay off your unpaid mortgage. A lender can foreclose on your house if you don’t make your required house payments. Not only do you lose your home, but your credit will suffer. A bad credit history can make it very difficult to rent an apartment, borrow money or even get a job.
How Can I Avoid It?
The worst thing you can do in a financial crisis is to ignore the problem. The farther you fall behind on your mortgage, the harder it is to get caught up. The best way to help yourself is to stay in your home and seek help from a qualified housing counselor who can help you evaluate your financial situation, figure out what options are available and work with your lender towards a solution. A certified housing counselor can also provide information on programs and services for homeowners in danger of foreclosure.
Make sure the counselor is approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. You can find a certified housing counselor by calling the Pennsylvania Mortgage Help hotline at 1-866-984-5108. Pennsylvania citizens should never have to pay to receive this assistance.
Beware of scams!
Unfortunately, there are people that try to take advantage of homeowners in crisis. Unscrupulous lenders often target victims over the phone, through the mail or by showing up on their doorsteps. They may present themselves as attorneys or associated with a federal agency or the federal stimulus program. Remember:
1. Never trust an offer that sounds too good to be true. It probably is.
2. Only take advice from sources you can trust, such as a certified housing or credit counselor.
3. Check with an attorney or your mortgage company before entering into an agreement.
4. Do not sign documents unless you fully understand them.
5. Get all promises in writing.
Other Web Resources
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Find out more about the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program.
Learn more ...
For links to more Pennsylvania programs to help you avoid foreclosure, visit The Pennsylvania HUD website. Learn more ...
See a summary of Pennsylvania’s foreclosure law from U.S. Foreclosure Law.org. Learn more ...
NeighborWorks America has tips, videos and other resources for those who are unable to pay their mortgages. Learn more ...
For a short description of the foreclosure process and how it affects your credit history, go to the website Mind Your Finances, from the InCharge Foundation. Learn more ...