Information and Resources for Homeowners Behind on Mortgage Payments or in Default or Foreclosure
If you are having trouble making your mortgage payments or have already fallen behind and are in default or foreclosure it is important that you act quickly to communicate your situation clearly to your lender or reach out for the help you need.
1. CONTACT A REPUTABLE FORECLOSURE PREVENTION COUNSELOR
The most effective and potentially beneficial contact you should make immediately when you find yourself unable to make payment on your mortgage would be to a qualified foreclosure counselor. A counselor will help lead you through what can be a very complicated and overwhelming process and identify all available resources. This service is available at NO cost to you from highly trained counselors across the state.
The Montana Department of Commerce Housing Division, which includes the Montana Board of Housing (MBOH) has received a $401,000 grant from NeighborWorks America to support Montana’s foreclosure prevention counseling efforts. This enables the MBOH to provide more “face to face” foreclosure counseling via the well-trained local foreclosure counselors in the NeighborWorks Montana network. NeighborWorks Montana is a nonprofit network of local and state organizations that provides free certified foreclosure prevention counseling across the state. Learn more about foreclosure counselors in your area and other resources by calling 1-866-587-2244 or go to www.housing.mt.gov and click on the "Foreclosure Prevention" link.
2. CONTACT YOUR LENDER OR LOAN SERVICER
It is crucial that you contact your lender or loan servicer as soon as you realize that you are unable to make a payment. This is a crucial first step in addressing your situation and identifying possible solutions to your difficulties, including modifying the terms of your mortgage to reduce your interest rate and monthly payment, repayment plans, postponement of regular payments (forbearance) or other options. Provide any information requested by your lender or servicer quickly and keep records and copies of everything. It is very important that you respond to mail and phone calls from your lender. If your lender does not hear from you, they are more likely to start legal action leading to foreclosure.
3. CONTACT A NOT-FOR-PROFIT HOUSING COUNSELOR
In addition to contacting your lender or servicer, you are encouraged to contact a not-for-profit housing counselor. Housing counselors that handle foreclosure related issues can negotiate with your lender and give you advice on other options and resources at little or no cost. They can also help you find free legal services in your area. Contact a HUD approved counselor. HUD approved counselors are available to help you obtain a loan modification. Montana HUD approved housing counseling agencies
4. CALL THE HOMEOWNER'S HOPE HOTLINE
Homeowners seeking counseling or advice can also call the HOPE NOW toll-free at 1-888-995-HOPE (1-888-995-4673) or at www.995hope.org. HOPE NOW is an alliance of HUD approved counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage lenders that provides free foreclosure prevention assistance.
5. SEEK LEGAL ASSISTANCE
If legal proceedings have already started, you should immediately seek the advice of competent legal counsel. The State Bar of Montana provides an Lawyer Referral Service. The Lawyer Referral Service is a free, non-profit, public service of the State Bar of Montana. Its hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the phone number is (406) 449-6577. If you cannot afford to pay an attorney's regular fees, contact the Montana Legal Services help line at (800) 666-6899. Summary of Legal Resources Statewide & County from the State Bar of Montana
6. AVOID HOME EQUITY THEFT & FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS
Be aware that if you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments, or your home is in foreclosure or default, you and your home may become targets for certain type of scams known as "home equity theft" or "foreclosure rescue fraud." Perpetrators of these scams claim they can solve your debt problems and stop you from losing your home. Some of these scams offer to temporarily hold onto the house while you catch up on your payments. They then use deceptive tactics to obtain ownership of your home for a fraction of its market value, and leave you homeless yet still the holder of the mortgage that is still in foreclosure. Other scams falsely claim that they can stop a foreclosure or tax sale, charge substantial upfront fees and fail to deliver the promised results. Remember that you don’t need to pay fees for foreclosure prevention help. It’s often better to apply that money to your mortgage payments. Also, many not-for-profit housing counselors will help you negotiate with your lender for free. Foreclosure Rescue Scams - Facts for Consumers
7. CONTACT THE BANKING DIVISION
If you still have questions about where to turn for assistance or don’t know who to call first, call the Division of Banking and Financial Institutions at (800) 914-8423. Division staff is available to: answer your questions about financial institutions that it regulates; confirm whether a business is licensed; and provide its complaint form which you may file against a state-chartered or state-licensed financial institution. List of Financial Institutions Regulated by the Banking Division