Most of us will contend with financial hardship at some point in our lives. It may be the result of a job loss or layoff, extensive health issues and mounting medical bills, general economic downturn, or one of the myriad other challenges that arise in the course of life. Regardless of how you got there, being in dire straits financially can be an incredibly debilitating experience.
If you own your home but are still making mortgage payments, these moments of financial woe can be especially difficult to navigate. If you’re scraping by every month when the bills come, you may find yourself over a barrel and looking for a way out. There are a few options, including selling your house fast for cash, at your disposal for how to handle a looming mortgage during this time of hardship.
If you find yourself unable to pay your mortgage, it is paramount that you get in touch with your lender right away. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist isn’t going to make it go away! If you speak with them early enough, you will find that they’re much more willing to help you than they will be six months down the road when you’ve gone months without making a payment.
If you know your financial issues are temporary (perhaps you’ll be starting a new job soon, or you’re waiting on a sum of money to come to you through another channel), consider asking for a forbearance. Explain to your lender that you just need a few months to get your affairs in order, and they may give you that grace period and suspend your payments.
Maybe you’re not sure how long this financial drought is going to last. In that case, discussing a refinancing of your mortgage with the lender is the next step. If you have good credit and a proven record of being a responsible borrower, your lender should have no problem helping you adjust the terms of your current mortgage arrangement.
If your current loan has a very high interest rate, for instance, refinancing may decrease your payments significantly. Be aware, however, that doing this will extend the life of your loan and—in the end—you will pay more than you originally planned. This option is best for those who are committed to keeping their homes and are okay with spending more time (and more money) in the long run to do so.
3. Loan Modification
Some programs, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), assist people in keeping their homes during times of financial crisis. Not all these government programs are created equal, so make sure to do your homework before considering one as a way out of your situation.
Some programs may appear to offer loan modification but, in fact, provide debt settlement. This means your account will be noted as “settled” (paid for less than originally agreed) which can hurt your credit score.
Additionally, many of the programs have very specific requirements for qualification, meaning that only those homeowners who bought after a certain date or those who owe below a certain amount on their mortgage can participate. There are a small number of people for whom loan modification is a viable option, but it can’t hurt to do some research and see if you’re one of them.
4. Repayment Plans
Much like forbearance, if you speak honestly with your lender about your financial situation and make a good faith effort to repay your debt, they are often willing to work with you. The foreclosure process is tedious and time-consuming for lenders, and most prefer to handle things outside of a courtroom.
If you’ve only fallen behind by a bit, your lender may allow you to make smaller installment payments more frequently to catch up on the past due amount. The sooner you do this, the better, as it will be much harder to convince them that you’re willing and able to pay what you owe if you’ve already amassed months worth of unpaid bills before contacting them.
If your income simply can’t keep up with your mortgage, renting your home may be an ideal way to bridge the gap. If you’re able to rent your home for as much or more than your monthly mortgage payment, you can hold on to your home while you get back on your feet.
You will, of course, need to organize a move (which will likely include downsizing or moving to a less desirable area to save money). You will also be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of your home while the renters reside there.
In addition, there is always the risk you take as a landlord that your home could be damaged by renters, which will lower its value. You will also still be responsible for paying things like property taxes and homeowners insurance.
If none of the above paths are workable for you, there is always the option to sell your home for cash. If your home is valued at more than what you owe for your mortgage, this can be an easy decision. Selling can help you pay your debt in full and walk away with your good credit intact.
If your home is likely to sell for less than what you owe, however, you would need to work out what is called a “short sale” with your lender. This means they will accept whatever your home sells for as full payment for your debt, regardless of what you actually owe. Keep in mind that doing this will negatively affect your credit, as it will reflect that your account was “settled” rather than “paid in full.”
If you’ve reached the conclusion that you need to sell your home in Florida because you can no longer pay your mortgage, you have options. If you do decide to sell, and you don’t want to deal with months of showings—not to mention extensive realtor fees and commissions—Meridian Trust is here to help. We purchase homes all over Florida, and our team is standing by, ready to help you sell your home quickly and walk away with cash in your pocket.