Foreclosure doesn’t usually come as a big surprise to homeowners. You’ll probably know, well before it happens, that you’re going to have trouble making your mortgage payments. Maybe you’ve been become unemployed or face unexpected medical bills, or maybe that adjustable-rate mortgage you took out a few of years ago is scheduled to reset at a much higher rate, making payments out of reach.

Once you do fall behind, you’ll probably have a few months before your lender even starts the foreclosure process. The fact that foreclosure is a process—sometimes a long one—is good news for you. You don’t need to panic. You’ll have time to plan, negotiate, and evaluate your options—if you act as soon as you smell trouble coming. The more time you have, the better.

If your only problem is a few missed payments, your lender will probably be willing to let you get current over time or even add the missed payments to the end of the loan. If you’ve missed four or five payments, your lender may not be flexible—but you still may be able to work something out.

Don’t wait for your lender to contact you. Just as soon as you realize you’re going to have trouble making your mortgage payments, you can and should start working on the problem. The articles on this website will show you how.