Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2008 | Features

Keeping the Roof Over Your Head

By Tina Owen
foreclosure sign

When economic pressures threaten the roof over your head, you can act to affect the outcome. University of Iowa associate professor of law and bankruptcy and consumer protection expert Katherine Porter offers this advice to people who may be facing foreclosure on their homes:

Don't delay

As soon as you realize you may be late with or unable to make a mortgage payment, contact your loan servicer and a foreclosure prevention counselor. The earlier in the process you ask for help, the more options are available.

Get the paperwork

Ask your loan servicer for a record of your complete loan history and current pay-off amount. Knowing what you owe is important if you're considering refinancing. Plus, you need to check that all your mortgage payments were recorded and that you haven't been charged any inappropriate or incorrect fees.

Check the law

The laws that govern the foreclosure process vary from state to state, so don't be misled by information you've read in media stories that may not apply to you. Some states require a foreclosure lawsuit to be filed, a process that may take up to a year to be resolved; elsewhere, a foreclosure can occur with notice only and can take as few as 40 days. Immediately open and carefully read all legal notices that you receive.

Be realistic

Assess your financial situation and decide whether home ownership remains a realistic option for you. Talk to your spouse or partner about how to proceed; often, financial problems cause great distress in a relationship.