Tips For Avoiding Home Foreclosure

sreenivasan, forclosures
Wall Street is worried about the slump in the housing market, especially foreclosures. In the second quarter of 2007, according to Equifax/Moody's, foreclosures in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shot up 335 percent. In Flint, Mich., they were up 986 percent, and in Visalia, Calif., home foreclosures were up 1,587 percent.

There are ways to avoid losing your home, as CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan explains in our special series, "Real Estate, Real Solutions."

This time last year, Donna Young was searching for answers. The mother of four was going through a divorce, was nearly $4,000 behind on her mortgage and was close to losing her suburban Atlanta home.

"I started feeling depressed, very stressed, needless to say, because I felt like everything that I had worked so hard for and to gain was falling apart," she says.

Young was smart enough to ask for help from The Impact Group, a non-profit organization that put her through a financial education class, got her on a budget and convinced her lender to excuse her delinquency by allowing her to pay an extra $300 each month to catch up.

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With the forecast on foreclosures grim, housing advocates and lenders have launched an ad campaign to persuade homeowners to seek help before its too late.

That's because foreclosure impacts everyone. A recent congressional report found that the between the homeowner, lender, neighboring property value and loss to local government, the average foreclosure costs $80,000. Preventing foreclosure is much less, at $3,300.

Those heavy losses have taken a toll in Arlington, Texas, where city leaders are now putting foreclosure prevention information in with the city's water bills.

"The best time to act is before you even miss that first payment," says Mindy Cochran of the city of Arlington.

According to lender Freddie Mac, nearly half the people who have their homes foreclosed never have a conversation with their lender.

Public service announcements are encouraging homeowners to get help. "Every year, 1 million families face losing their homes to foreclosure," warns one announcement.

Here's some helpful information to avoid foreclosure:

  • To avoid scams, visit to make sure your credit counselor is an approved agency.
  • Communicate with your lender as soon as you know you'll miss payments or be late.
  • Negotiate repayment plans. You may be allowed to delay payments or add past due amounts to the balance of your mortgage and extend it over a longer period of time.

And the advice from Donna Young? "Just hang in there."

She did — and still has her home to prove it.

If you're trying to sell a home in this buyer's market, you may be considering skipping the broker. Tomorrow, in the final part of our series, we'll look at the pros and cons of going it alone.