I’m behind on my house payments. I don’t want to lose my home but I don’t know where to turn. Help!

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Believe me I know how it feels to be in the position of losing your home! It feels aweful. Like you are in this maze and just can’t find your way out. I lost my home a few years ago. I tried everything to save my home, but the bank had no interest in helping me. Even though it was during the time when they were suppose to be making every effort to help homeowner’s in distress. The homeowner wasn’t their concern at all. Their bottom line was all that mattered. It was a difficult time. It was exhausting. I was depressed. So many feelings ( failure, fear, anger, frustration and just a little glimmer of hope). I learned a lot in the process. In the end, I had to realize it was just a house. I really wanted to stay there but it just wasn’t going to work out. Once I came to terms with that reality, I was able to move on and rebuild.

I felt the need to write about this today because I was looking at pre-foreclosure listings in Zillow. I did ths search because I had listened to a webinar about buying houses from distressed homeowners. I found, in Pottstown, there were 111 pre-foreclosure listings. I thought foreclosure activity was declining. I am a real estate broker and an appraiser, however, I can’t say I had really researched that fact. But in my everyday work, looking at the number of sales on the MLS, the sale prices and the listing prices in the area, it appeared as though the real estate market was just fine. Real estate has rebounded from 2006-2007 when real estate crashed. It is in a much better position today. That being said, there are still 111 homeowners in distress in Pottstown.

So what do you do when you are the homeowner in distress? Many times the depression and fear take over and homeowners do nothing. That is not a good move! You have to do something! Let’s look at some options.

Number 1 is to Ask for Help. Call your mortgage company. Inquire about a revised payment plan to get caught up, refinancing or a mortgage modification. If that doesn’t work out, talk to family and friends. I know it’s not the best option. Nobody likes to admit they need help. And asking family and friends is hard! Option 1 is just a first step and I understand in many cases the mortgage company options are out of reach and you don’t know anyone with extra cash to bail you out of your financial situation. On top of that, and I am with you here, who wants to be in debt to family and friends. So in reality this option doesn’t work for a lot of people

Number 2 is Call a Real Estate Agent. If you are in a distressed situation, you need to know exactly where you stand. Do you have enough value in your home to be able to cover the mortgage and other debts (taxes, utilities,liens) againts the property? A real estate agent can give you an estimated value and the cost to sell your home. It’s so easy to check sales and listings in your area on Realtor.com and Zillow that you may already know there isn’t enough value in your home. However, there are options such as short sale and maybe even renting your home until you get back on your feet. A good real estate agent give you the information you need to determine your next step.

Number 3 is sell your home yourself. When you are just a little short on making a sale without paying thousands out of your own pocket, selling on your own may work. If you don’t have to pay the commission, it may be financially feasible to sell the home and pay all the debts. Selling on your own isn’t as easy as some think, however, it’s not impossible. I just want to add a little note of caution here. Buyers will expect a lower sale price because they know you aren’t paying a commission. Be clear on the numbers, particularly your home’s value, before you embark on the FSBO route. Also be wary of “WE BUY HOUSES” offers. They may be your fastest and easiest option, but again, know the value of your home! These companies are in business to make a profit! I’m not going to say it would be a bad move because, depending on the time factor, they may be your best option. Just be informed.

A little side note on the value of your home. A lot of homeowners will look on Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow to find the value of their home. These value estimates aren’t an accurate assessment of your home. You really just get a ballpark estimate. Another area where homeowners fail in determing value on their own is having an emotional attachment to their home. In some cases the homeowner feels their home, for whatever reason, is much better than the home that sold across the street. This thinking can lead to the idea that their home’s value is much higher than that one, even if it is not. Take the emotion out of it when comparing. If you really need to sell your home, price it competitively. Be objective and remember, value is determined by many things. Condition, features, size, location and even the condition of the sale (relocation, short sale, shortage of homes, oversupply of homes, etc.), are just a few things that enter into the value equation. My point here is, again, know the true market value of your home! Now let me get back on track,

Number 4, when all else fails, give it back to the bank. The bank will take the property off your hands. If there is no equity and you have no way of bailing yourself out of the mortgage debt, do a deed in lieu of foreclosure. They take the property and in most cases wipe out the debt. You may even be able to negotiate a small amount of money for yourself. They sometimes give you cash for moving expenses. You will have t to leave the property promtly and in “broom swept” conditon.

I don’t want to leave this blog on a down/negative note. So let me add some inspiring/uplifting notes. As I said, once I realized I couldn’t save my home, I accepted it and moved on. That initial realization and letting go was huge. The weight was lifted. I was free from the stress and worry. I had a new plan. There was still hope. The process is difficult but it can be easier if you ask for help. I didn’t. But looking back, it would have been easier with some guidance and understanding. Feel free to call or email me for advice. No strings no pressure.

I hope this blog was helpful. Being someone who has been through this process, I fully understand.

Kathy Kissinger, Broker Owner of Kissinger Realty Group, Inc

Call 610-327-4626 or email kkissinger247@gmail.com

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