How Mortgage Debt Restructuring Can Help You Avoid Foreclosure
Facing foreclosure can be an incredibly stressful and scary situation. As of the third quarter of 2023, over 1.2 million homes are in some stage of the foreclosure process. If you find yourself falling behind on mortgage payments, it’s important to take action quickly to try to avoid losing your home. One potential option to consider is mortgage debt restructuring.
What is Mortgage Debt Restructuring?
Mortgage debt restructuring involves working with your lender to modify the terms of your home loan to make it more affordable and help you avoid foreclosure. The goal is to get a modified loan that lowers your monthly payments to a manageable level based on your current financial situation.
Some common types of mortgage modifications include:
- Interest rate reduction – Your lender lowers the interest rate on your loan, which lowers your monthly payments.
- Term extension – The length of your loan is extended (e.g. from 30 years to 40 years), which lowers the monthly payments by spreading them out over a longer period.
- Principal reduction – Your lender reduces the amount you owe on the loan. This directly lowers your monthly payments.
- Balloon payments – Your monthly payments are reduced for a set period of time (usually 5-7 years) and then a large “balloon” payment comes due when the loan matures.
- Partial claim – Your lender advances you money in the form of a no interest second loan to bring your mortgage current. You repay this when the first mortgage is paid off.
Benefits of Mortgage Debt Restructuring
There are several potential benefits to restructuring your mortgage debt if you are facing financial hardship:
- Avoid foreclosure – This is the main goal. Restructuring allows you to keep your home by making the payments more affordable.
- Lower monthly payments – Depending on the type of modification, your payments could be reduced significantly, freeing up room in your budget.
- Peace of mind – Being in foreclosure is extremely stressful. Restructuring provides relief and hope.
- Improve credit – Getting a modification can help you start rebuilding your credit by making on-time payments at a lower amount.
- Additional time – Extending the loan term gives you more time to improve your financial situation. The lower payments help you get back on your feet.
What are the Qualification Requirements?
To qualify for a mortgage modification, most lenders require that:
- Your mortgage is for your primary residence
- You have experienced a financial hardship such as job loss, reduced income, major medical expenses etc.
- You provide documentation of your income and expenses
- You are already behind (or likely to fall behind) on payments
- You do not have assets to repay the mortgage in full
Additionally, the type of loan you have, as well as the investor who owns the mortgage can impact eligibility. Rules and criteria can vary by lender.
How Do I Apply for Mortgage Debt Restructuring?
If you meet the basic eligibility criteria, here are the key steps to go through:
- Contact your lender immediately – Let them know you are facing financial hardship and are interested in mortgage modification options. Time is critical.
- Gather documentation – Your lender will ask for documents showing your current income, expenses, and assets. This is vital for them to assess modification options.
- Complete request forms – You will need to complete a request form authorizing the lender to review your loan for modification programs like HAMP or proprietary options.
- Provide updated documentation – Be prepared to send updated or additional documents if requested during the underwriting process. Respond quickly to information requests.
- Consider foreclosure alternatives – If you ultimately do not qualify for any mortgage modification programs, discuss options like short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
The process can take 45-60 days on average. Stay actively engaged with your lender throughout. Consider contacting housing counselors for guidance and support as well.
What Happens After My Mortgage is Restructured?
Once your mortgage loan is officially modified, make sure you understand the specific terms so you know what is expected going forward:
- Review modified loan terms – Interest rate, loan balance, monthly payment amount, loan maturity date etc.
- Understand trial period requirements – Most mods require 3-4 months of trial payments before becoming permanent.
- Know the consequences of re-default – Failing to make the new payments can lead to fast foreclosure proceedings.
Sticking to the new payment schedule is critical for avoiding subsequent default. If your financial situation changes again, contact your lender right away to discuss additional options.
Finding Legal Help for Mortgage Debt Issues
If you run into issues at any point in the mortgage restructuring process, consider contacting a lawyer who specializes in real estate and foreclosure defense for guidance. They can help negotiate loan modifications on your behalf or assist with alternatives like short sales if needed.
Here are some useful legal resources:
Having professional legal support can help ensure your rights are protected through the restructuring and foreclosure avoidance process.
Losing your home to foreclosure is emotionally and financially devastating. If you find yourself struggling with mortgage payments, take action quickly by contacting your lender about debt restructuring or modification options. This can provide much needed payment relief and help you keep your house while improving your overall financial situation. Consider speaking to housing counselors and foreclosure defense lawyers for guidance and support as well. With the right help and an active commitment to getting your payments under control, there are options available for avoiding foreclosure even in difficult situations.