Afraid of losing your home?

It is a battle worth fighting.

You do not make enough money. You lost your job. You are behind on everything. Everyone wants their money now! Who do you pay first? What about food? Your world is crashing in.

One thing that we probably all agree on – no matter who you voted for, no matter if you are married, single, divorced, living alone or together – stress makes everything worse. Stress affects your decisions; stress affects your relationships and according to Psychology Today, stress affects your health. According to an article by Elizabeth Scott, money problems increase stress.

Unfortunately, the solution is not an easy, quick fix, and there has to be sacrifice. You may be tempted to hide. You may feel that you just need a break. You may be tired of the bad news. You unplug the phone. You hide the mail (or even worse, throw it away). You seek the peace of silence, of ignorance. This does not help! Do the opposite! Get the mail and answer the phone; or better yet, call them before they call you! It is a battle. To win the battle, your basic needs must be met, and a roof over your head is one of the most basic of needs.

Step one, arm yourself with the facts. How far are you behind? Has the mortgage company taken legal steps? What about foreclosure? Ask all of the questions, and be prepared to answer questions as well. Know how much you make. Collect six months of paystubs or ask for a printout from your employer. Get the same information from all others who live in your home. If collecting unemployment, gather the documentation. Gather information about all sources of income. Find your last three tax returns. If not yet filed, make an appointment to get it done. List all your bills. When are they due? Are you behind on any of them? Having all the above information in hand is the first step to resolving the crisis and winning the battle.

Step two, get help. Your mortgage company may refer you to an available program. They may send you a stack of questionnaires. Do not wait to receive information in the mail, especially if the word “foreclosure” is mentioned in any of your investigation. Seek a Michigan State University Extension homeownership counselor in your area or contact Step Forward Michigan. If you have a special circumstance or are a member of a group or organization such as a union or you are a veteran, seek counsel from your local group or chapter. If you have a religious affiliation, seek out help from your local body, they may be able to refer you to a housing counselor or provide immediate assistance to help you buy some time. A referral to a local food pantry can be of great assistance while every penny is being put aside to resolve a crisis. There are real options to save your home: modification, forbearance, short sales, deed in lieu or property tax relief (veterans who are 100 percent disabled may not be required to pay real property taxes ). You must know about the programs to take advantage of the programs. Do not hide. Protect your home, yourself and your loved ones, get help and fight.

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