2008-01-05 / Editorials & Letters

Guest column: Work with your bank to avoid foreclosure

By Bryan Long, Licking County Recorder

Almost all publications and reports agree that Ohio ranks among the worst states when it comes to homes in foreclosure. Depending upon which report you read, you would findthat Ohio ranks somewhere between the second to fifth worst state for delinquencies and foreclosures. It appears that these numbers are not going to change anytime soon without a change in the Ohio job market.

Several weeks ago foreclosures in Licking County for 2007 matched the total of 2006 with 5 weeks left in the year. With this being said I would like to caution anyone who finds themselves behind in their mortgage or already in foreclosure.

First, it is important to be on guard for prospectors who try to help you out of a jam. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals who will promise to help by taking over your payments as long as you sign your house over to them. In some instances these individuals will not make any mortgage payments on the property. They are simply taking the house and using it until the foreclosure finally happens. This leaves the homeowner still on the hook for the mortgage. If you get a call from someone and the deal sounds too good to be true, most likely it is.

Some of the properties these individuals have acquired from someone in foreclosure are being used as rental properties until the Sheriff's Sale. Once the sale takes place the renters are also at a loss as they find themselves losing their residence. Remember those unscrupulous individuals I mentioned, well they have now received six to nine months of rental income without making any payments to the mortgage company. Also, because of the manner in which some of the property deeds were executed a problem with the chain of title can arise. The mortgage companies then have to go through the court system to clear up any title discrepancies due to the problems caused by these individuals.

Secondly, it would be advisable to stay in your home until you are forced to leave. In most foreclosure cases it takes a minimum of 6 months, and many times up to 9 months or slightly longer, before the property is sold at Sheriff's Sale. Please understand that the mortgage company does not want to own your house! More often than not they would rather work out a payment deal with you so that you can remain in the house. By taking possession of the house the mortgage company will inevitably have to spend money on repairs, utilities, taxes, winterizing the property, realtor fees, and so on. It actually saves the bank and the homeowner money to stay in the house until the point in time that the homeowner must vacate the property.

Having seen friends that have gone through the pain and agony of a foreclosure, I cannot stress enough the need to contact your bank if you find yourself having financial difficulties. The phone call may be worth the effort and you may even save your home.

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