August 4, 2008
Growing up, our schools tried to prepare us for all types of disasters. I’m sure we all remember lining up single file for those mandatory tornado, fire and earthquake drills and if you’re like me, you never took them seriously because that’s all they were–drills. Especially that earthquake drill. An earthquake? In St. Louis? Come on.
So when the 5.2 quake rattled my Webster Groves apartment in April, a little more than a decade after my last earthquake drill, I had to change my way of thinking. Over the years, environmental conditions changed and caused that earthquake. No one saw it coming. Maybe if we were seismologists and understood all of the scientific details we could have predicted trouble. But to an everyday girl like me? I never thought it would happen in St. Louis, and then it did. Fortunately no major damage occurred, but it got me thinking about what could happen next time and how I could be prepared. You never know how things will change or what disaster could come from it, and that applies to more than just nature.
Maybe you feel like you’re facing disaster with your mortgage. You didn’t understand all of the details of your home loan. You thought you had things under control, but now foreclosure is on the horizon. Or maybe you’re not having any problems with your house payments. Your environmental conditions are stable and you’re confident foreclosure isn’t in your future. In either case, it’s good to have a plan ready as life can change in ways we never expected.
Here are 3 simple starting points recommended by area foreclosure experts. Think of it as the “Stop, Drop and Roll” of the mortgage crisis:
Talk. Late on a payment? About to be? Talk with your lender immediately. Let them know your situation. Maybe your income changed or your interest rates escalated. Pick up the phone and ask your lender what your options are. Even if the news isn’t great, you know where you stand and can move on to step 2.
Walk. Go see a housing counselor. Nonprofits in St. Louis like Beyond Housing and Better Family Life offer FREE counseling. They might be able to save your house from foreclosure, and they can discuss these options with your lender.
Know. Stay on top of your situation. Know all of the details and keep important documents like tax returns, mortgage statements and any letters from your lender on hand. The more you know, the more a housing counselor can work with you.