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Can't make that mortgage payment?

More than 2.1 million Americans with home loans missed at least one payment last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The rate of new foreclosures hit a record. The problem is likely to get worse, as variable rate mortgages adjust to higher rates, many borrowers are finding they can't afford their payments. And the collapse of the subprime mortgage market has made it even harder. But be aware, If you are unable to carry your mortgage, letting the bank foreclose could lead to a lifetime of hardship. Losing your home is just the beginning. A foreclosure will damage your credit for years, making it impossible or at least extremely expensive to buy another home. If the proceeds from the sale of your home don't cover your mortgage loan, your lender might sue you to recover the unpaid balance. Many borrowers who lose their homes to foreclosure haven't tried to negotiate with their lenders. Lenders are usually willing to work with borrowers to avoid foreclosure. You should call your lender before you miss your first payment. The longer you wait, the fewer options you'll have. Once your loan is declared in default, typically after you've missed three or four payments, you're past the point of no return. At that point, most lenders won't accept a partial payment of what you owe. Unless you can come up with the money to cover all your missed payments, plus any late fees, your lender will start foreclosure. Put your home up for sale. The proceeds from the sale might cover your mortgage balance and selling costs. If you have no equity or your local real estate market is depressed, ask your lender to consider a "short sale.' In a short sale, the lender agrees to accept the proceeds from the sale of your home, even if they don't cover the amount you owe.Ask your lender to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure. If you can't sell, your lender may agree to take the deed to your home and cancel your debt.

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