What to Do If Your House is Underwater: Everything You Need To Know About Facing Foreclosure

by | Apr 28, 2022 | Finance

If you are one of the millions of homeowners who are struggling to keep their homes, you may be wondering what to do if your house is underwater.

Facing foreclosure can be a frightening experience, but there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family.

In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for homeowners facing foreclosure.

What does it mean when your house is underwater?

When a house is underwater, it means that the value of the property is less than the amount still owed on the mortgage.

For example, if your home is worth $150,000 but you still owe $200,000 on your mortgage, your house would be considered to be underwater.

This condition can be caused by a variety of factors, including falling property values due to changes in the local real estate market or shifts in interest rates for loans. Many homeowners end up in this position because of unexpected events such as job loss or medical issues that make it difficult to keep up with their mortgage payments.

Whatever the cause may be, being underwater on your home can put you at risk of foreclosure and other financial troubles. As such, it’s important to stay abreast of any changes that could impact your ability to repay your mortgage.

With vigilance and planning, you can ensure that your home remains above water in spite of any setbacks along the way.

a house sinking underwater representing an underwater mortgage

How does an underwater mortgage happen?

There are a number of different factors that can contribute to an underwater mortgage, such as falling property values due to changes in the local real estate market or shifts in interest rates for loans.

Additionally, many homeowners can end up in this position because of unexpected events such as job loss or medical issues that make it difficult to keep up with their mortgage payments.

Unfortunately, there are also a number of predatory lending practices that can put borrowers at risk of ending up with an underwater mortgage. For example, some lenders have been known to drastically underestimate the value of a home during the underwriting process, giving an unrealistic idea of how much money a buyer will likely have to pay back if they borrow against it.

Predatory lenders may raise interest rates unexpectedly or push borrowers into expensive refinances without fully explaining the risks and consequences involved.

Whatever the cause may be, being underwater on your home mortgage can put you at risk of foreclosure and other financial troubles.

As such, it’s important to stay on top of any changes that could impact your ability to repay your mortgage and eventually ruin your credit score. 

What to do if your house is underwater?

When it comes to your mortgage, it is important to be proactive and seek out solutions if you find yourself in a situation where your mortgage is underwater. Here are 6 options available:

Option 1: Build more equity

One option is to build equity in your home. You can do this by making improvements that increase the value of your home or by paying down your mortgage balance. Building equity can help you stay in your home, increase your credit score, and eventually sell it for a profit.

Option 2: Refinance your mortgage

Refinancing can be a great way to reduce your monthly payments and get your finances back on track. There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering refinancing your mortgage when you’re underwater.

First, it’s important to find a lender who is willing to work with you. Not all lenders are willing to offer refinancing options to borrowers who are underwater on their mortgages. Second, you’ll need to have good credit in order to qualify for a refinance.

If your credit has suffered as a result of your financial struggles, you may not be able to get the best terms on your loan.

Option 3: Sell Your House As-Is For Cash

There are many reasons why someone might want to sell their house for cash and use the proceeds to pay off an underwater mortgage. For one thing, if you own a home that is currently worth less than you owe in mortgage debt, this puts you at risk of foreclosure if you fall behind on your payments.

By selling your house as-is and using the proceeds to pay off your outstanding balance, you can rest a little easier knowing that you are no longer facing potential foreclosure. Additionally, by having cash available to put toward your mortgage, you may be able to qualify for other financing options in the future if necessary.

Overall, selling your house for cash and paying off your underwater mortgage can be a smart choice that allows you some peace of mind and financial flexibility going forward.

Option 4: Sell your house in a short sale

A short sale is a real estate transaction in which the proceeds from the sale of a property are used to pay off the mortgage, even though the sale price is less than the outstanding balance on the loan.

Short sales can be an alternative to foreclosure, and it can offer some advantages to both the borrower and the lender. For the borrower, a short sale may provide a way to avoid damaging their credit score. For the lender, a short sale may be preferable to a foreclosure, which can take longer and be more expensive.

If you’re considering a short sale, it’s important to consult with your mortgage company and an experienced real estate agent to see if it’s the right option for you.

Option 5: Foreclosure

If you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, an option can be foreclosure. But what does that mean, exactly?

Foreclosure is the legal process of your lender taking back your home because you’ve failed to make payments. It’s important to understand that foreclosure is a last resort for your lender and should only be considered if you’re absolutely certain you can’t make your payments.

There are a number of things to consider before moving forward with foreclosure, including the impact it will have on your credit score and your ability to buy a new home in the future.

If you’re still unsure, speak to a housing counselor or financial advisor who can help you understand all of your options.

Option 6: File Bankruptcy

If you’re considering bankruptcy, one option is to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy allows you to discharge most of your debts, including your mortgage. Keep in mind, however, that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will also require you to give up any nonexempt property, such as a second home or investment property.

Another option is to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy allows you to reorganize your debts and create a repayment plan. Under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, you’ll make payments on your mortgage over a three- to five-year period.

After you complete the repayment plan, any remaining balance on your mortgage will be discharged. However, if you miss payments on your Chapter 13 repayment plan, you could face foreclosure.

Bankruptcy should be considered a last resort option, as it will have a major impact on your credit score and your ability to get new credit in the future. If you’re considering bankruptcy, it’s important to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss all of your options.

Final Thoughts

Selling your house for cash and paying off your underwater mortgage can be a smart choice that allows you some peace of mind and financial flexibility going forward.

However, it’s important to understand all of your options before making a decision. If you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, speak to a housing counselor or financial advisor to explore all of the potential options and find the best solution for your situation.

If you’d like to see more home selling resourcing, check out our other helpful articles below:

  1. 11 Low-Cost Home Improvements to Make Before You Sell Your Home
  2. How to Take Pictures of Your House for Sale: Tips and Tricks

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