Foreclosure rates are as alarming as unemployment rates. Deciding what to do if your home is threatened in this way is a severe test of maturity. We don’t want to lose what is usually both our biggest financial investment and, truly, our safety and refuge.
One of my favorite legal self-help publishers has an article I’m running in a series on, Monday 2/15, 2/22, 3/1, 3/8, 3/15, 3/22,/ 3/29, 4/5, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26, and 5/3.
Do You Have Equity in Your Home?
To a large degree, your options depend on whether you have equity in your house. Generally, your equity will be the difference between what you owe on the house and what you can sell it for. Unfortunately, many homeowners have negative equity — that is, selling your home would get you less money than what you own on your mortgage and other home loans.
What Is Your House Worth?
These days it’s not so easy to know what your house is worth. Estimates of real estate values are traditionally based on the amounts that similar houses in the neighborhood have recently sold for. To find out that information, check out websites such as www.Zillow.com or www.housevalue.com. Local real estate brokers and agents can also give you an estimate by looking at similar sales in your neighborhood.
Unfortunately, as property values continue to decrease, it becomes next to impossible to determine the value of your property, especially if no houses in your neighborhood are selling. Or, if there are many foreclosures going on in your community, a house similar to yours may sell for far less than if you sold it outside of foreclosure. The only real way to find out your house’s market value is put it up for sale and see what happens.
Reprinted with permission from the publisher, Nolo, Copyright 2009, NoloWh