Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff
If you're struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, you're probably wondering whether you're at risk for foreclosure. During the past several years, millions of American families have been forced to give up their homes as a result of the ongoing foreclosure crisis. Despite years of economic improvement and a massive government-led mortgage-stabilization effort, several million families continue to be in imminent danger of foreclosure. In other words, your situation isn't unique. If you can't afford to pay your mortgage, you'll need to know how many mortgage payments that you can miss before becoming eligible for foreclosure.
Unfortunately, the exact answer to this question depends upon a host of complicated factors. First, your mortgage lender 's policies will have a significant impact on the length of the lag between your last mortgage payment and the initiation of foreclosure proceedings. Some lenders are far more lenient than others. For instance, mortgage initiators that primarily deal with low-risk homeowners tend to forgive the occasional missed payment. These lenders might permit you to miss four or more mortgage payments before referring you to your local housing authorities.
By contrast, lenders that work with high-risk borrowers might have less patience. Some high-risk lenders initiate foreclosure
proceedings after just two consecutive late payments. Even if you're not technically a high-risk borrower, you could be lumped in with the habitually-delinquent borrowers in your particular mortgage pool .
The state of your local housing market is also likely to play a role in the timing of your impending foreclosure filing. If your neighborhood or city has been wracked by a significant number of foreclosures, it's likely that your local housing authorities are facing a tremendous backlog of delinquent homes. Since it takes time and money to prepare foreclosed homes for auction, it can take months or even years to work through such a backlog. In many cases, housing authorities are obligated to ask mortgage lenders to wait before bringing any new foreclosures to the auction block. If this is the case, you may be permitted to remain in your home for an indefinite length of time. In fact, you might be able to miss 10 or more mortgage payments before finally losing your home.
If your foreclosure is delayed for a significant amount of time, you may be able to use the situation to your advantage. If you can make a large payment that brings your home out of delinquency. your lender may choose not to foreclose on your home after all.