In recent years, many people have turned to individual agencies, housing counselors and various lenders to avoid foreclosing on their homes. Unfortunately, many families found themselves paying scammers who took their money and failed to protect them.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Any person at risk of losing his or her home due to foreclosure can receive free counseling from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) nationwide network of approved counseling agencies.
HUD’s nationwide network of approved counseling agencies can help families who are trying to avoid foreclosure. Although each agency offers specific services, in general you can receive the following types of help:
- General counseling in matters related to housing
- An evaluation of your specific housing situation
- Counseling on ways to avoid foreclosing on your home
- Help with refinancing through HUD’s various programs or with lender negotiations
HUD-approved agencies cannot charge for their foreclosure counseling services. However, they can charge a reasonable fee for other services, such as general housing education, pre and post-sale counseling, and other services.
Preparing for Your First Meeting
You don’t need to wait to be in foreclosure to seek counseling. If you think you may run into problems paying your mortgage, it is better to seek foreclosure counseling sooner, rather than later. Having the following financial information ready will make your first meeting with a counseling agency more productive:
- Household monthly income and expenses
- Current monthly mortgage payment amount
- Latest mortgage account statement
- Any relevant communication with your lender regarding late mortgage payments
It is also a good idea to have a sense of what you want to accomplish with the help of the approved counseling agency – keeping your home, selling it, refinancing, etc.
Working with a Non-Approved Agency
If you choose to work with a non-approved agency, consider taking certain steps to avoid falling victim to scams:
- Avoid paying for foreclosure counseling services. HUD-approved agencies provide these services at no cost.
- Resist any tactics that pressure you into signing documents without enough time to go over them carefully.
- Do not sign over the deed of your house to any other person or organization.
- Make your mortgage payments only to your lender or an institution approved by your lender.