Here's What Happens if You Stop Paying Your Mortgage

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  • An extended failure to pay your mortgage gives your lender the right to foreclose on your home.
  • If you're struggling to pay your mortgage, you may be able to modify the terms of your loan to make it more affordable.
  • Reach out to your lender sooner rather than later to explore your options.

Unfortunately, the consequences could be quite severe.

A mortgage is a binding agreement between you and a lender. In exchange for loaning you money to finance the purchase of your home, you agree to pay your lender a specified amount of money on a monthly basis. If you fail to keep up with those payments, you could end up having your home foreclosed on.

The good news is that a single missed mortgage payment won't send you into foreclosure immediately. But a series of missed payments could. So if you're struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, the most important thing to do is reach out to your lender and see what options you have.

How the foreclosure process works

Once you're 30 days late with a mortgage payment (or any other loan payment or bill, like a credit card payment), you'll be reported as delinquent to the credit bureaus. That means your credit score could take a huge hit.

A single late or missed mortgage payment won't mean you're getting foreclosed on, however. Rather, the legal foreclosure process usually cannot begin until you're a full 120 days behind on your mortgage, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. From there, once your lender begins the process of foreclosing on your home, the amount of time it will take will vary by state.

But clearly, you don't want things to get to that point. After all, if you worked hard to save money to buy a home, losing it would be devastating. But there may be steps you can take to prevent a foreclosure, even if you reach a point where you can't keep up with your monthly mortgage payments.

Talk to your lender as soon as possible

You might struggle to pay your mortgage after losing a job, getting injured, or another circumstance. No matter the situation, your best bet is to get in contact with your lender as soon as possible and discuss your situation.

See, lenders don't actually like foreclosing on homes. The process can be lengthy and expensive for them, and generally, they'd rather just continue to collect your loan payments, even if it means having to wait a little longer to get their money. As such, if you reach out to your lender, you may find that you're able to pause your mortgage payments for a period of time and resume them later under a process called forbearance.

Your lender might also allow you to modify the terms of your mortgage to make your payments more affordable. For example, if you're currently on the hook for $1,200 a month and you can no longer swing a payment that high, your lender might agree to let you stretch out your repayment period, which might lower each monthly payment to $800 or $900.

All told, there may be options available to you if you can't pay your mortgage, so don't stay silent and just stop making your payments. Reaching out to your lender could prevent you from losing the home you worked hard to purchase.

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