Buying a home is a time full of excitement, and you happily sign your mortgage agreement in the belief that you’ll be living in the home for many years to come. You never imagine there will be a time when you can’t cover the payments or want to free yourself from such a big financial burden.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, know that you’re not alone. 1 in every 200 households in the US will face foreclosure once in their lifetime – that means you’re one of 250,000 other families trying to figure out what the best next step for them may be.
Today, we’re going to guide you through some common questions people have when they want to break free of their mortgage and how you can avoid foreclosure and keep control of the situation.
The first thing you should do if circumstances have suddenly changed and you’re not sure how you’ll pay your mortgage each month is to reach out to the bank and let them know you’re in financial trouble. If you’ve lost your job, for example, letting them know now may mean you can negotiate a lower monthly payment until you get another job. Some mortgage companies also offer payment holidays, so you may be able to take a few months off while you get back on your feet.
It can be tempting to stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening, but that can lead the bank to take legal action far sooner than they would if you reached out to them. Start looking at your expenses and cutting off anything that’s not essential to your daily wellbeing.
If you want to break free of your mortgage and aren’t motivated to keep your home, you may wonder if you can just hand the keys back to the mortgage lender and dust your hands of the whole thing. The answer to this question is yes, but with some caveats.
Handing your property back to the lender is called “deed in lieu of foreclosure”. You should only consider this option once you’ve considered all your other options, so let’s explore those and then we’ll discuss the pros and cons of going through the deed in lieu of foreclosure process.
To avoid the bank seizing the property from you, you can:
- Negotiate with the lender: As we talked about above, starting a conversation with your bank may be uncomfortable but will usually help you find a solution. You may be able to do a loan modification to help you get through.
- Check your insurance: Did you take out any insurance when you got your mortgage? You may have bought some kind of mortgage protection that helps you continue covering your bills if something disastrous happens, such as the loss of a partner, illness, or loss of income.
- Sell: If you can pay for 4-6 months but will struggle after that, consider selling your property. If it’s in an area that sees good buyer demand and your home is in fairly good condition, you shouldn’t struggle to sell your home quickly. The market has been good as of late, especially for homes that are near move-in-ready.
- Sell to a cash home-buying company: This is like the option above but is easier and faster. Instead of advertising your home on the open market, you go directly to a cash home buying company (like us), get a cash offer, accept, and complete the sale within just a few weeks. This allows you to move quickly and avoid many of the fees associated with selling your home.
- Short sale: This option should only be considered if the market or home has changed since you bought it and is now worth less than the amount you owe on it. For example, if you still owe $200,000, but the property is only worth $160,000 now due to a market crash or property damage from a natural disaster. In a short sale, you seek the permission of the lender to sell it for what it’s worth now and give all proceeds to the lender to wipe out the debt. This option will allow you to keep control of the house until sold, which you cannot do if your home is foreclosed on.
- You cancel your remaining balance and so will be free of your mortgage for good
- You can avoid the long (and often physically and emotionally draining) foreclosure process
- Avoid foreclosure fees
- You won’t be subject to the bank’s whims
- It will not damage your credit as much as foreclosure (you’ll typically need to wait 4 years before getting another mortgage, but you’ll have to wait 7 years after foreclosure)
- It will damage your credit more than selling your home (if you sell, you won’t be restricted about when you can get another mortgage)
- You have to surrender your home – including all equity you have in the home or the value of any work you’ve done on it
- You can’t do it if the foreclosure process has begun
If you don’t want to try and keep your home or have exhausted your options with the bank, the best thing you can do is sell your home. Selling your home will give you a chance to get free and clear of the home and the mortgage and if you have equity in the property (or if the value has increased), you’ll have a chance to get that equity back so you can reinvest it elsewhere.
Selling will also allow you to protect and rebuild your credit so you can apply for another mortgage when you’re ready. If you’re not yet behind on your mortgage and can survive another few months, it will be well worth doing so if you plan to move to another area where property prices and your mortgage will be more affordable. Any other option may leave you unable to get approved for a mortgage, even if you have a good cash deposit.
If you’re worried about foreclosure and need to change your circumstances quickly, we’re here to help. We buy homes in any condition in Massachusetts and can complete in just days instead of weeks or months. We provide our best offer upfront so you know whether to take it or leave it and asking us for an offer will never put you at an obligation to sell.
To get your no-obligation cash offer as soon as possible, call us at 781-309-7085 or click here.