Avoiding Foreclosure: Do You Have Enough Time to Negotiate?

It takes a while to work things out with your lender (typically through its representative, a mortgage servicing company). If you’re not sure how much time you’ve got left before your house is sold in foreclosure, find the page for your state in our Summary of State Foreclosure Laws and see how much notice you’ll get. Your failure to be aware of your time constraints can sink your attempt to keep your house.

In the past, it was common for homeowners to negotiate with their servicers right up to the moment before the foreclosure sale was scheduled to occur (called "dual tracking"). Then, when the negotiations fell through—as they frequently did—there wasn’t enough time to stop the sale from going through. While this scenario can still happen, it is less likely if you are working with your servicer to sign up for one of the government foreclosure-prevention programs. Additionally, dual tracking is not allowed under new mortgage servicing rules effective January 10, 2014. Still, as mentioned, you should be aware of when a foreclosure sale might happen, and know the date before which you should take other steps to prevent the foreclosure sale—such as filing for bankruptcy or suing to stop the foreclosure in nonjudicial foreclosure states.

The lessons are obvious: Get started as soon as you can, and be assertive if you don’t get a timely response.â

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