My wife and I purchased a home in Pasco County, Fla., in 2005 for $200,000. My wife passed away in 2007, and I have no desire to live in the house. Two home appraisals came in at $71,000 and $73,000, and my monthly payment is $1600. What can I do to get out from under this burden? – Frank
We’re very sorry for your loss, and it sounds as if you’re in a difficult situation. The real estate market has been particularly cruel to many Floridians. The new guidelines for the Home Affordable Refinance Program may allow you to refinance at today’s low rates if you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan, but this may or may not be enough to ease the burden. Beyond that, you can stick it out, discuss a short-sale with your lender (an agreement whereby your lender accepts less than what you owe to them) or foreclose. None of these options is particularly attractive, but given your circumstances one of them may be necessary. The latter two will drive down your credit score and may make it impossible to buy – or rent – another place at a decent rate. We think you should enlist the help of a third party, such as a National Foundation for Credit Counseling employee, to review your options in the context of your overall financial situation.