If you’re struggling to pay your mortgage, it’s important to take action. Steps you take now could help save your home.
Help with paying your mortgage and property taxes
Save the Dream Ohio – Mortgage Assistance provides eligible Ohio homeowners with financial assistance to pay delinquent mortgage payments and/or future mortgage payments for up to six months. While the amount of assistance may vary by household, a household may receive up to a combined $25,000 in mortgage assistance.
There is no cost to apply for the program. To qualify for the Save the Dream Ohio program, a household must have their primary residence in Ohio, have experienced financial hardship or loss of income related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have an income at or below the Save the Dream Ohio income eligibility threshold. Learn more at savethedream.ohiohome.org.
Save the Dream Ohio – Utility Assistance Plus provides eligible Ohio homeowners with financial assistance to pay delinquent utility bills, property taxes, and other housing costs not included in the mortgage payment. A household may receive up to combined $10,000 in utility and/or housing cost assistance. You can apply for Utility Assistance Plus now through your local Community Action Agency.
Pre-foreclosure is the period from when you miss your first mortgage payment to when your lender files a foreclosure in court. To take your home, Ohio law requires your lender to file a court action. Usually, lenders wait 90 to 120 days from your first missed payment before they file for foreclosure.
If you’re in pre-foreclosure, here’s what you can do.
Stay in your home
If you move out of your home, you could lose some of your rights. Someone could also vandalize your home while you’re gone, and you could end up paying for the damage.
Call your servicer
Your loan servicer can offer you options to help you get back on track and help you save your home. A lot of homeowners are seeking help right now, so be prepared to wait on hold. Make sure to have your account number ready. Ask your servicer:
- What options are available to help me temporarily lower or suspend my payments?
- Are there forbearance, loan modification or other options available?
- Can you waive late fees on my mortgage account?
If you get a forbearance, it will temporarily suspend or reduce your payments, but it is not forgiveness. You will still owe the payments at some point.
At the end of your forbearance plan, your servicer should work with you to do one of the following:
- Set up a repayment plan
- Modify the loan so that your payments are added to the end of your mortgage
- Set up a loan modification that reduces your monthly mortgage payment
Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor
If you want help working with your loan servicer, you may want to contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. Foreclosure prevention counseling is available for free through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program. To find your local HUD-approved housing counselor, go to "Local Government and Community Resources" on this page.
Foreclosure is the period from when your lender files a foreclosure complaint through when your home is sold at sheriff's sale and you are evicted. The court foreclosure process can take anywhere from 6 months to more than a year. It depends on your case.
Talk to a lawyer
Defending yourself from foreclosure can be complicated. Find a lawyer for legal advice or representation if you can. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to get help with your foreclosure from your local legal aid organization.
File a foreclosure answer within 28 days
You must file an answer with the court within 28 days. This is true even if your foreclosure has been suspended or you are talking to your lender or servicer about other options. If you do not file an answer, you could lose your home.
To file an answer, fill out this form and take it to your clerk of court's office. You can find your clerk of court under "Local Government and Community Resources" on this page.
Ask for money left over from a sheriff’s sale
If your home is sold at a sheriff’s sale:
- Money may be left over. The lender will take what you owe using money from the sale, but sometimes money is left over. The leftover money is called the “balance” or “excess funds.”
- You have the right to claim it. If there are excess funds in your case, the clerk of court will send you a notice within 90 days after the sheriff’s sale. (Make sure the clerk has your current address.) The notice should include how much is left and how you can get it.
- You must ask the court for it. In most counties in Ohio, you must file a motion with the court to ask that the excess funds be returned to you.
- You have 90 days. File your motion within 90 days of the date of the clerk of court’s notice. If you don’t file your request in time, the excess money may go to the county’s unclaimed funds.
Use this Form Assistant to create your motion asking for excess funds from the sheriff’s sale.
You also can learn more about your rights to the excess funds under Ohio law in Ohio Revised Code Section 2329.44.
Look out for scams
There are scammers who try to take advantage of people who are trying to save their homes. Sometimes they try to get you to pay them cash. Sometimes they try to get you to sign over the deed to your home. Don't let scammers take your hard-earned money or your home. Some common scams are:
- Asking for cash so that they can “negotiate” a loan modification for you or "help save your home"
- Suggesting that you deed your house to them and then rent it back from them
- Posing as the federal government offering you “special bailout funds”
- Offering you cash to sign over the deed to your home (This lets them collect any money you are owed after your home is sold at auction.)
To keep yourself safe from scammers:
- Never sign papers under pressure.
- Never sign papers you don't understand.
- Don’t sign anything with blank lines or spaces.
- Never pay someone who is not your lender or loan servicer.
- Don't stop communicating with your lender or loan servicer.
- Never give out personal information (unless it's to your lender or loan servicer).
- Never sign over the deed to your home (unless you are selling it).
Read more to learn about the foreclosure timeline in Ohio.