In today's economy, making ends meet is becoming more difficult for people.
For some Carbon County residents, it may be nearly impossible.
Utah State University Extension family and consumer science agent Carolyn Washburn has several suggestions for people who are struggling financially and concerned about keeping their homes.
Washburn recommends that Carbon County residents consider:
After health care, housing should be the first priority.
Local consumers should review their finances and see where spending can be cut.
Areas such as cable television, memberships, entertainment and dining out are good places to start, pointed out the USU Extension family and consumer science agent.
People may want to delay payments on credit cards and other unsecured debt until they have first covered their rent or mortgages.
Consumers should look for assets such as a second car, jewelry or whole life insurance policy that could be sold for cash to help reinstate loans.
Local residents should also determine if anyone in the household can get an additional job to bring in extra income.
Even if the efforts don't significantly increase available cash or income, the actions demonstrate to lenders that people are willing to make sacrifices to keep their homes, explained Washburn.
If consumers are having trouble making monthly mortgage payments, they should contact their lenders immediately, emphasized the USU Extension family and consumer science agent.
When a late notice arrives in the mail, consumers should open it immediately and call the lender.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development funds free or low-cost counseling nationwide, explained Washburn. Housing counselors can help people understand the law and options, help organize finances and represent themselves in negotiations with lenders if necessary.
A housing counselor may also offer direction on a forbearance, which can allow a temporary loan postponement or even reduced payments.
To find a HUD-approved housing counselor, local residents may call the agency toll-free at 800-569-4287.
â¢Talking with lenders.
Consumers should find out how much they currently owe and what it will take to suspend the foreclosure process.
People should determine what the exact costs are for late payment, collection and attorney fees.
Local residents should record the names of the people they speak with, the date of the conversations and what was said, advised Washburn.
Postponing foreclosures will provide consumers with time to fully exhaust other options such as refinancing, listing the property, doing a short sale or selling the property to an investor.
Consumers should get as much time as they can to prevent long-term damage to credit ratings.
People should make sure they fully understand the terms of agreements with lenders and that they abide by the time frames.
Consumers should get everything in writing and use registered or certified mail in all correspondence on legal matters.
â¢Weigh refinancing or selling.
Current mortgages may be part of the problem. In the last five years, many people have obtained interest-only or adjustable rate mortgages and the payments now have increased to an unmanageable level.
Consumers should exercise caution in shopping for alternatives since mortgage rates and programs change daily, noted Washburn.
If the suggestions fail to solve the problem, people may need to sell homes. It is better for people to sell rather than to have homes repossessed by the lender, which damages credit.
â¢Be aware of foreclosure recovery scams.
Examples include an agency claiming it can stop foreclosures immediately for consumers who sign a document appointing it to act on their behalf.
People should never sign a legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice from an attorney, a trusted real estate professional or an approved housing counselor, emphasized the USU Extension family and consumer science agent.
Solutions that sound too simple or too good to be true usually are.
In addition, people who are selling homes without professional guidance should beware of buyers who try to rush the process.
Unfortunately, there are people who try to take advantage of a consumer's financial difficulty. Exercising caution, weighing options and controlling spending will help people weather financial storms, concluded USU Extension family and consumer science agent.