The anorexic economy and depressing housing market has left many homeowners struggling to meet their financial obligations. Many have lost their homes. Some are on the verge of having their homes repossessed.
Yet, a recent survey by Money Management International, a nonprofit credit counseling agency, found that homeowners struggling with mortgage payments would rather go to friends and family than seek help from professionals or mortgage relief programs.
“Homeowners face real concerns when considering who to turn to for help with mortgage troubles,” says Jo Kerstetter, vice president of education and community relations at MMI. “For millions of homeowners who still face possible foreclosure, it is important to remember that quality help is available for free from HUD-certified housing counselors nationwide.”
Among those surveyed, 50 percent said they would approach friends or family for help if their payments are in trouble, and 26 percent said they would go to their lender. Only 13 percent said they would go to a counselor or seek out a mortgage relief program.
When asked when they would reach out for help, 57 percent of respondents said they would do it after a job loss, 35 percent said they would do it if they knew they would miss at least one mortgage payment. Only 27 percent said they would wait until one missed mortgage payment.
“Homeowners should seek assistance the moment they begin to struggle in making the mortgage payment,” says Kathy Conley, a housing specialist with GreenPath Debt Solutions, a nonprofit debt-counseling company. “The sooner the better.”
The MMI survey found that those who defaulted on their payments waited until a missed payment before seeking help. Sixty-three percent of respondents who sought help did it after they were 1 to 3 months late on their payments, while 22 percent said they waited until they were 4 to 6 months behind. And 4 percent said they waited until they were 7 or more months behind before seeking help.