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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Understanding Foreclosure

By Danny Thomas

It has finally happened; you have qualified for a mortgage and now you own your home. Owning a home can be great, but it is now more important than ever to understand foreclosure and what some of the terms are related to foreclosure so you can hopefully avoid it.

Foreclosures can seem complicated since there are so many different terms associated with them. Real estate agents and loan officers might know these terms like the back of their hands, but to the rest of us, it would be easy to get confused when terms start to be used.

There are a few foreclosure related terms that are important to know about. The first is lien holder. The lien holder is usually a bank or credit union. It is the company that offers the mortgage and therefore has put the money up for you to purchase the home. In some ways , the lien holder owns the home until you pay off the mortgage. If you fail to make payments on time, they can take the home, or foreclose on it.

If a borrower starts to fail to make payments on their mortgage, the lender might choose to accelerate the loan. This can be done because most of the mortgages these days have acceleration clauses in them. This is another term that is helpful to understand. Without an acceleration clause, a lien holder would have to wait until payments were due and then declare the payments were defaulted.

With the acceleration clause, a lien holder can demand that the entire mortgage be due within a certain time frame thus accelerating the due date of the entire loan. This is what allows the lender to declare the entire loan is in default. With this clause, the lender has the right to say you owe us the full amount you borrowed and if you can't pay it, we are foreclosing on the home.

The lender might be able to get a judge to allow them to take back pieces of the land equaling the amount you have failed to pay, but this is a tedious process. It is safer for them to have an acceleration clause so that they can demand the full payment of the loan. Obviously, most people won't be able to make the payment which then allows the lender to foreclose on the home because you owed them the entire amount of the home and didn't pay it.

Foreclosure can seem messy. But knowing some of the basic terms will help you understand it better and understanding just might help you avoid it.

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