Foreclosure is a common fear for those in debt trouble. It shouldn't be. Skip to main content
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Foreclosure is a common fear for those in debt trouble. It shouldn't be.

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Foreclosure is a common precursor to bankruptcy. More often than necessary, it happens before a family really knows where to turn for help.

Worse yet, those who lose their home in foreclosure continue to spiral into debt and end up filing bankruptcy long after it could have been used to help save their home in addition to relieving them from the agony of overwhelming monthly credit card bills and other debts. Fortunately for many citizens of North Carolina, a foreclosure prevention program has become a model for the nation and to date has assisted more than 2,500 of us from having to give back the property we worked so hard to obtain.

Called the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project, this unique effort provides those worried about making their mortgage payment a hot line that provides advice, counseling and insight on how to work with your home's mortgage lender to avoid having to surrender your deed back to the bank. While it certainly cannot help everyone who calls, two out of every three families needing help are getting it. And, more than 5,000 additional mortgages are still being re-negotiated.

It was originally created to assist those victimized by the sub-prime loan mortgage crisis but has since been expanded to help homeowners who have traditional loans but may be struggling with their house payment as a result of other debt forms or unemployment.

It should be noted that this program is not a debt or credit counseling service. It is designed specifically for those affected by the swath of spiking mortgage rates that resulted in the systemic plague of foreclosures nationwide, decimating the national real estate market and bolstering our economic demise.

Similar federal programs, such as the Making Home Affordable plan rolled-out last year, have not met expectations. North Carolina has managed, proportionally, to create an impact. The state banking commission has estimated that the total number of mortgages saved to date has stopped $218 million in property value and mortgage holder losses. Should those families currently working with the program be saved, the totals could more than double that number.

Yet, there remain a number of pain points in the state's efforts to stave off foreclosures. Chris Kukla, a high level government affairs adviser at the Center for Responsible Lending, stated that a number of mortgage counseling companies and other private organizations are doing a "horrible job" in loan reorganization. Whether it be not hiring enough people to answer call-in questions or simply not understanding the paperwork process and related legalities, many of the efforts that have erupted on to the market at the height of the recession are too profit driven to provide real service.

The importance of this program to those considering bankruptcy is that it can help you alleviate one of your largest monthly financial headaches. Understand of course, that it does not eliminate your mortgage, but simply re-aligns it in a more reasonable payment plan. With this added stability, a troubled homeowner could arrive at a less pressure-driven decision to file bankruptcy and feel more confident in the outcome.

Remaining in one's home is one of the most important factors for someone who files for bankruptcy protection, despite the fact that the majority of those who file do just that -- stay in their homes. It seems that over the years, perhaps since the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy law, or maybe as a result of today's hyper-sensitivity to the housing crisis, the fear of foreclosure has permeated the mindset of everyone facing financial trouble. Between programs like the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project and the expertise of the bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, you have more than enough ways by which to remain safe and sound at home.

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