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Financial Questions & Answers

Financial Questions & Answers

Question:

I am upside down in my fixed rate mortgage by about $300,000. I am already retired and my wife would like to retire in the very near future. However we can’t refinance or sell the house for what is owed. We don’t know of any options that will work.

Answer:

Unfortunately, you’re not alone. The implosion of the real estate market has left many folks in similar situations and there is no magic wand that can be waved to eliminate these struggles. As you note, it could take years for many parts of the country to dig out from the results of the collapse and recent news on the valuation front has not been good. We definitely think you should explore the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program to see if it could put you in better position. Give one of the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline counselors a call at 888-995-4673 to explore your options on that front. Beyond that, talk to your lender about options they can offer to ease your struggles. These options might include a short sale or modification. In the end, if you have to execute a short sale or accept foreclosure recognize that this will have a major impact on your credit in the coming years so try to minimize that impact. Clearly, if you walk away from your mortgage you don’t want to be in a position where you need to open up new credit lines—it may be difficult, expensive, or even impossible in the wake of a foreclosure or short sale. We wish you the best, but unfortunately our best advice is to explore your options and choose the path that is most palatable today…and tomorrow.