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(TNS)—Q: We’ve been turned down repeatedly for loan modifications and have been stuck in foreclosure for several years. Truthfully, we don’t need and can’t afford this much house anyway. The court has scheduled the foreclosure auction for about six weeks from now. Is there anything we can still do to soften the blow from all of this? — Gail

A: It is important in a situation like yours to focus on minimizing the damage to your lives. If your home is “underwater,” your lender can come after you for the difference between what you owe and what the property is worth when it’s sold. This is called a deficiency judgment. Your lender may be able to garnish your wages or take your assets to pay off this amount. A completed foreclosure sale is also more of a hit to your credit score and ability to get a loan in the future.

Although you don’t have much time, I strongly suggest you try for a short sale. In the typical short sale, the lender will waive the deficiency judgment (make sure to get this in writing). While this still hurts your credit score, it’s not as bad. A short sale usually takes longer than six weeks, but you may be able to get the foreclosure postponed by showing the court you have started the short sale process.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.

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