Experts at the Home Rescue Fair offered these facts and tips:
If your loan is from the original purchase, the lender can take only your home to fulfill the debt. If you have refinanced or added a mortgage or equity line of credit, the lender can foreclose plus demand "deficiency," the balance due after sale of the house.
There are two types of home foreclosure. In a court foreclosure, a judge considers the case and can order the sale of the home and further payment by the homeowner. A private foreclosure does not involve a judge and allows only sale of the house, not further pursuit for deficiency.
Many loans are packaged and sold from lender to lender. Sale of a loan cannot change its terms.
Lenders must give borrowers 30 days to negotiate before beginning the 120-day foreclosure process.
Loan modifications usually are not handled by the people who answer the customer service number. Bank of America, for example, has "home retention specialists." Homeowners may need to do some research to find the correct department to work with them.
Customers dealing with large lenders may have better results working with credit counseling agencies. Be sure to look for HUD-approved agencies that do not charge for their services. If there's a bill, the service likely is a scam.
To find out more about the federal Making Home Affordable program, visit makinghomeaffordable.gov.