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6 Steps to Avoid Foreclosure

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RISMEDIA, Dec. 6, 2007-The AICPA, one of the nation’s largest non-profit professional organization representing more 340,000 CPAs across the country specializing in the area of tax, accounting, auditing and personal finance, suggests the following steps to minimize the risk of foreclosure if they hold sub-prime mortgages:

Step 1) Make your payments on time; call your lender if you’re going to be late.
If you think you’re going to be late making a mortgage payment, the first thing you should do is to pick up the phone and call your lender. Often times, lenders are willing to work with you if you are upfront with them and tell them in advance when you are facing a problem. They will frown on you if you fail to pay on time and do not alert them to your current financial situation.

Step 2) Ask your lender how a foreclosure would impact your credit score.
If you decide that foreclosure is the only possible solution for you, you need to understand that it will impact your overall credit score. Some experts say it could lower your score by more than 100 points. Be sure to ask your lender your credit score will be affected should you choose this option.

Step 3) Identify a decision maker at your lender; keep accurate records.
Make sure you are speaking to the right person in the right department who has the authority to work out a solution with you. Be sure to take careful notes from each conversation you have, including the name of the person with whom you spoke, their contact details and the key points from the discussion.

Step 4) Talk to your lender about alternatives.
When you are in this kind of situation, don’t be afraid to ask for “forbearance.” Forbearance is a request to suspend your payments or to temporarily reduce your payments for a short period of time. If you request this, be sure to have documentation that you are trying your best to pay the bills. These documents may include recent pay stubs, a letter of intent if you recently accepted a new job, and bank account statements.

Step 5) Watch your monthly budget and expenses.
Managing your monthly budget can be difficult and frustrating, but it is nevertheless one of the ways to help you get a handle on your expenses when you are trying to figure out a solution to your mortgage situation. One of the most important aspects of controlling your budget is to determine where your money is going. The CPA profession has created free tools and calculators to help you better manage your monthly budget. This free calculator can be accessed on the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy Web Site: “Homeowners’ Tab” in the tools section.

By entering your income and monthly expenditures, you can see how much you have left to save and where your money is being spent. In addition, you can click the “View Report” button to compare your budget breakdown to ideal targets, which can help identify areas for improvement.

Step 6) Do additional research.
Visit the CPA profession’s Web site at www.360FinancialLiteracy.org for free articles, calculators and resources to help you with personal finance issues such has home ownership and debt management. In addition, the US Treasury has additional resources available to the public on this topic. This information can be accessed at: http://www.treas.gov/topics/financial-markets/.

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