If you’re facing the threat of falling behind on your mortgage payments, it might not be the end of your home ownership. You will have a lot of different options available to try and prevent the foreclosure from happening or to defend against foreclosure if you bank attempts to start the process.

In many cases, your first line of defense will involve calling your mortgage lender, honestly discussing your situation and trying to negotiate more favorable payment terms that you can afford.

Although it might be tempting to pick up the phone immediately and beg for an extended due date or a lower monthly payment, resist the temptation and take a timeout to do your homework.

Before calling your lender, you should:

  • Tally up your total income and total expenses.
  • Calculate your equity by subtracting the current balance owed on your mortgage from the current market value of your home. Hopefully, your home is currently worth more than your mortgage.
  • Make notes about the nature of your financial problem and whether it is permanent, long-term or short-term.
  • Identify what sort of payment arrangements can you realistically adhere to.

While negotiating with the lender, take a note of the time, date and content of every conversation, how you contacted the company and who you spoke with. Follow up on your verbal requests with a written letter via certified mail with return receipt requested. Make a copy of everything you send for your records.

Finally, you might want to keep living in your home while you’re working things out with the lender, because this might help you qualify for certain kinds of aid. Do not rent out your house, as that will reclassify it as an investment property and could disqualify you for certain assistance.