Imagine that your husband or wife is fighting overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan.
You spend every waking moment thinking of their safety, hoping they will not become a grim war statistic on the evening news. You work tirelessly to keep your home and daily life as normal as possible for your children.
And then you find you can't pay your mortgage.
The number of U.S. homes in foreclosure just hit the million mark (psst...did you know that Chapter 13 is designed to stop foreclosure proceedings?), rising 59 percent in the first quarter of 2008 compared to the same time period last year. But foreclosures in towns near military bases were up an average of 217 percent.
For those towns were military families cluster, thoughts of losing their homes has become another huge stress factor. Navy families in Norfolk, Virginia, Army families in Columbia, South Carolina, and Marine Corps' families in Oceanside, California are among the 10 cities and towns within 10 miles of military bases that have been hit hardest.
Norfolk alone saw foreclosure rates rise 492 percent.
Subprime mortgages - typically targeted to those with weaker credit ratings - had become more attractive to military families than VA loans during the subprime lending boom.
VA loans dropped by two-thirds in 2006, at the peak of the boom, and are now at their lowest numbers in four years. And even those VA loans have seen a 6.49 percent increase in overdue payments (more than 30 days late), double the 3.24 percent increase for prime borrowers.
Contributing to the million foreclosures mark was a record percentage of loans that went into foreclosure for the sixth straight quarter. About one percent of all loans, or 448,000 homes, entered the foreclosure process during the first year.
And while this is a nationwide problem, there are six states that are at the heart of the crisis-Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Nevada. Michigan and Ohio homeowners were primarily victims of job losses and other economic woes, while the other four states saw a building boom that went bust.
It's hard to predict if we've actually reached the bottom yet, but there are a couple of promising signs. Twenty states, including both Michigan and Ohio, saw slightly lower rates of homes going into foreclosure in the last quarter of 2007.
And Hope Now, a nationwide foreclosure coalition of banks, agencies and other groups, is one of many efforts centered around helping homeowners to stay in their homes. They reported keeping 183,000 at-risk borrowers in their homes in April.
Perhaps you are one of those military families worried about losing your home while your loved one is in combat overseas.
Or maybe you've been downsized due to the economy's woes or just are unable to make ends meet financially.
Whatever your specific situation, you may wish to consider looking for options to avoid losing your homes or going even further into debt.
For some homeowners facing a possible foreclosure, bankruptcy laws have helped them save their homes.
To learn more about filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, take action today by talking with an attorney.
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