What Happens If You Can’t Pay Your Mortgage Payment?

What happens if you can't pay your mortgage payment

What happens if you don’t pay your mortgage payment? One of the scariest things that many homeowners have to face is the possibility of foreclosure. When you are faced with the prospect of being unable to pay your mortgage, and the possibility of losing your home, it can be very demoralizing. But there are programs that can help you (more on this in a moment).

And perhaps more importantly, you won’t lose your home immediately when you miss one mortgage payment. There is a process that follows whenever you can’t make your mortgage payment, which I’ll explain in detail below:

The First Consequences of Not Paying Your Mortgage

The process a lender has to follow when foreclosing on your home differs by state. Some states require that the lender foreclose through the court system, while others don’t require the same level of legal requirement. Here is a general timeline of what happens when you can’t pay your mortgage — although you should check with your state for individual specifics and possible variations:

  • Missed mortgage payment: Most lenders require you to make your payment by the first of the month, but have a grace period that lasts until the 15th. Once you are past the 15th of the month, a fee might be assessed and your payment considered delinquent.

  • Credit score hit: You’ll probably receive a notice and/or a phone call as early as the 16th day of the month. However, it’s not until you are 30 days late that many lenders decide to report you to the credit bureaus. Once reported on a missed/late mortgage payment, your credit score takes a hit. It can be as much as 100 points.

  • Demand/breach letter: Your mortgage is considered in default once it reaches 30 days late. You will probably receive some sort of demand/breach letter about your mortgage when it is somewhere between 45 and 60 days late. This letter informs you that foreclosure could be coming if you don’t pay.

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The Next Stages of the Foreclosure Process

Then, after 30 days, there are more serious consequences:

  • You’re on notice: Sometime around day 60 (or a little after), your credit score will likely take another hit, and you’ll be put on notice. You’ll receive a letter stating how much you owe on your mortgage, including penalties, to bring it up to date. If you don’t pay up, foreclosure could be next.

  • Foreclosure process starts: The biggest first hit to your credit actually comes when you are 30 days late on your mortgage payment. However, reaching the 90-day mark can bring your score down another 20 to 30 points (or more). This is also the point at which your lender usually begins foreclosure proceedings.

Depending on the state you live in, it can take anywhere between another 90 days and as much as three or four years to complete the foreclosure process. When your home is foreclosed on, the bank owns the property, and can try to sell — and usually does try to sell it — at auction. You can stop the foreclosure process by bringing your payments up to date. A lender might also decide to let you complete a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure, if that seems a better financial options for the lender.

How to Avoid Foreclosure in the First Place

If you can’t pay your mortgage, it’s better to approach the lender up front, rather than wait until things get messy. Just ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Instead, call your lender when you know you are having problems. You might be eligible for a refinance or a loan modification that can make your payments more manageable.

The federal government has two programs that are intended to help homeowners who may be struggling with making their mortgage payments. These were both set up in the aftermath of the 2008 housing market crash and global financial crisis (and both have been extended until 2015). The first, known as HAMP, assists homeowners who have missed payments and are in danger of foreclosure to get a refinance that will help them make their monthly payments. The second, known as HARP, does the same thing for homeowners who have not yet missed any payments but are concerned about not being able to make mortgage payments in the future.

Another possibility you should know about is that the lender might be willing to agree to forbearance or deferment if your situation is temporary. Working with your lender when you can’t pay a debt is your best first option.

All in all, the sooner you address the issue, the sooner you can work on a solution. Hopefully this post helps you understand what happens if you don’t pay your mortgage payment. If your are struggling with this right now, we wish you the best and we’re here to answer any questions you post in the comments. (And remember, ReadyForZero can help you organize and pay off your debt!)

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  • Katie

    Hey, I need some advice.

    It is a very long story and cannot discuss over internet. Please contact me. I don’t know what I should do, I just know I need to do something. It is for my best friend and I have been sought out by another family friend about this matter. Thank you.

    • Hi Katie, you can email us at “Ask” at readyforzero.com, but keep in mind that we’re not able to give personal financial advice – only general financial advice.

    • David Suleiman

      so sorry to hear about your loss

  • Carrie

    Does anyone from the bank actually come to your house if you don’t pay your mortgage payment? Just wondering.

    • Hi Carrie, not that I’m aware of. Usually the bank will begin by calling you or sending mail to your address. However, I would recommend doing more research to find out exactly what consequences may result from not paying. It’s a good idea to call your lender and see if you can work out some kind of agreement. Best of luck to you!

      • Mike

        Hi, I read your question, and the answer is yes they do come to your house. In my mothers case because she could not pay her mortgage and weren’t able to reach her by phone they did come to the house but only to inform her that she qualified for a loan modification. They were very nice and didn’t demand anything. But they did take a lot of pictures of the property. About a few weeks to a few months later they came again and repeated the process. This is Bank of America. I don’t know if they come to your house if you answer your phone.

        • This is interesting – thanks for sharing your first-hand experience, Mike!

    • Sandra Blake

      Mine did and I was only one month late!

  • David

    What if u haven’t paying your mortgage over 2 years

    • Hi David, in that case your debt would have probably been sold to a debt collector of some kind and there would usually be an unpaid debt listed on your credit report which would hurt your credit score quite a bit. However, with mortgages there has been some variation lately because of the subprime mortgage crisis. It’s possible that your original lender still owns your loan and they have not yet reported it or taken action on it. I’d first recommend going to AnnualCreditReport.com to see your credit report. That should help you figure out who owns your debt at this point. Good luck!

  • jose alicea

    I live in Florida and I’m 3 month late on my mortgage the bank send me a letter which is a default. I have 30 days to but I know I won’t be able to. Pay don’t know what to do

    • Hi Jose, I would recommend researching all your options and try to be proactive so you can get the best outcome, whatever that is. One place to start is our resource center: http://readyforzero.wpengine.com/resources/mortgage. Also look into every option, such as short sale, modification, federal assistance programs, etc., and don’t be afraid to call your lender and talk about what they can do to help you. Good luck!

  • Lori

    I am in an active chapter 13 bankruptcy going on 2yrs and 7mo. Unexpectedly i have a temp hardship and unable to pay for this months mortgage payment. To keep this matter out of court what can i do to rectify this missed payment. This will be my first missed payment.

    • Hi Lori, unfortunately with such a specific question I’m not able to help you much. That’s because it ultimately will depend on how much flexibility your lender is willing to give you. I’d recommend contacting them and explaining that you will be able to make the payment very soon (if that is in fact the case).

  • richard

    My step son has not pay a house payment for 5 years and they still have not foreclose on him

    • Oh wow, that’s interesting! I wonder if the bank feels it is not worth foreclosing on? Or if they don’t have the proper paperwork? Thanks for your comment.

      • David Cardwell

        I’m curious what is the circumstances of why the lender have not done anything

        • Gerard

          I Have not paid my mortgage in 1975 days! I owe more than the house is worth and ihave been denied remodification because i work off the books and they won’t count my apartment as income so Whats up!

        • Gerard

          They offered me a short sale, and my friend who works at a bank here in Long Island told me dont do it cause its a scam from Wells Fargo my 3rd company.

    • David Suleiman

      section 8

  • Edward

    i want to know that if i call my lender and tell them upfront that i cant make a payment will they take our home. (we live in a trailer)

    • Hi Edward, unfortunately I can’t give you a definitive answer here. I’d recommend finding a certified financial counselor to discuss your situation in depth with. Hopefully they would be able to tell you what the consequences could be of being upfront about your inability to make a payment.

  • Bart

    There seems to be much out there in the way of information regarding late payments if you are in breach of your Mortgage Note, but I see nothing in regards to this for other reasons. I specifically ask because I have a Homestyle loan, which while like a 203k isn’t a 203k and my lender told me I may be in breach of my Mortgage Note if EVERYTHING isn’t done by final inspection time. I have asked what this means and what I need to do but he answers very vaguely, plays the broken record game of being coy.

    The house will be 98% done if not 100% but if (for instance) my counter top get delayed and isn’t in on time, whichmay actually happen… what happens? Can they take my house? Is there a required process or procedure to go through where I have time to remedy the shortfalls? What if the counter is in, but any other number of issues I am currently unaware of pop up unexpectedly, it seems odd this is a one shot deal and if it isn’t done on time I am in breech of my note. This is my future home, I have spent ebery dime I have on it, worked countless hours and drained all my accounts into it. I am not some ‘flipper’ or investor, this is my home and my children’s home, I am not trying to make a buck… I have paid everything on time and will continue to do so… not getting answers or advice as to what is happening and what it may mean is stressing me out to no end… I cant sleep.

    I had a really, really horrific (and am still having it) experience with my initial contractor who I feel and can prove owes me a lot of money. He, though, went and placed a lien on my house. My lender says that has to be released before the due date hits too. This contractor is why I am so far behind to begin with and I know he wont do my any favors of releasing the lien, he wants free money. My lender is not advising me, I can find no one to help guide me or give me advice. Do I have to go hire a lawyer preemptively? What should I do? Please help!!

  • Carl

    What happens if home is unlivable and you stop paying mortgage? Do they garnish your wages or taxes?
    Paying mortgage on home that owe so much on and it’s not livable don’t know what to do ? Please any advice is helpful

  • Judy

    i have the money to pay my mortgage or my HOA, I am behind and I owe 950.00 in behind dues, however My Mortgage is due this month. I can pay jan mortgage feb 5 and Feb mortgage before the end of the month, the rest of the year will be back on track. what should I do.

  • Caz

    Hi been seperated for 4 years so we both been payin half each of mortgage my ex sent me text sayin hes not paying anymore an cancelled his direct debit , can he do this an wot will happen as our 14 yr old son lives with me

  • mary

    My house is upside down about 50,000. I can not afford my house. I got hurt at work about 9 months ago and my significant other moved out. I am on work comp only getting 2/3 of my pay check. Should I just walk away from my house.

  • nuney

    I haven’t paid my mortgage in 2 years, but when I try to make some payments my mortgage company wouldn’t give me the time or day. I haven’t received any letters and I’m so scared that any day I can lose my house. I’m in a lot of debt not only in my mortgage. Can I still make a loan? I don’t want to lose my house can anyone help me please?

  • silver

    What happens if I only have half the payment which they take out automatically out my account next time I put money in will it be tooken out to pay for what I still owe for the payment I missed

  • Leena

    I’m going on 5 months late on my mortgage payment what can I do

    • leena

      I don’t wanted to lose my house

  • Ray

    My son (38 with girlfriend and child age 3) has not paid a mortgage payment in close to four years ….. yet he can do drugs. As long as he doesn’t pay a mortgage payment he has the money to buy the drugs. He’s also on unemployment. I’ve been trying to contact the mortgage company and get them involved in this matter. help stop my son from being a drug addict by forcing him to make payments somewhere ….. work like we all do. That poor child age three. How can I find who holds the mortgage just to help them get started. Give them cell phone numbers or what ever else they need. I’m sure mail goes right into the trash …. if even looked at!

  • Harley Poul

    Hello Dear Sir/Madam.

    I am Mr. Harley, a private money lender. I give out loans with an interest rate of 3% per annual and within the amount of $1000.00 to $500,000,000.00 as the loan offer. 100% Project Funding with secured and unsecured loans are available. We are guaranteed in giving out financial services to our numerous clients all over the world. With our flexible lending packages, loans can be processed and funds transferred to the borrower within the shortest time possible. We operate under clear and understandable terms and we offer loans of all kinds to interested clients, firms, companies, and all kinds of business organizations, private individuals and real estate investors. Just complete the form below and get back to us as we expect your swift and immediate response. EMAIL : austinloan12@outlook.com


    Do you have a bad credit?
    Do you need money to pay bills?
    Do you need to start up a new business?
    Do you have unfinished project at hand due to bad financing?
    Do you need money to invest in some area of specialization which will profit you? and you don’t know what to do.

    We offer the following loans below,
    personal loans[secure and unsecured]
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    consolidation loans and so many others.

    1. Full Names:……………………….
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    Email haustinloan12@outlook.com

    Best Regards,

    Mr Austine

  • Mike

    How much is is your credit affected when you miss 3 payments and then sell your house?

  • will

    I skipped a payment and was put on a repayment program. they split my past payment into 5 future payments. They said if I was a day past the due date is a problem. I’m going to be 3 day late makin this months payment should I be too concerned?

  • james

    Can the banks sell your house for any price at action

  • Nicole Wendt

    My mom and I bought a duplex together about 6 years ago. Things happened, she lost her job. I was under the impression that she was making the mortgage payments. When she tried to get a modification on the house (which took almost 6 months to complete) they said we where too far behind in payments for them to be able to do anything. They told us that we either had to come up with about $20,000 to cover the back payments or they would foreclose. During the modification she was told at one point that she would not be able to make payments, now we find out she could have been paying. She cashed in her 401K and said she could send them half of what was owed. They told her it had to be all of it or they couldn’t take it. Why does this not sound right? What are our options? The only way we will be able to come up with the full amount is to find someone to co-sign on a loan to get the rest of the money. We just don’t want to lose our home.

  • Ray

    My grandmother is going to just give her house up to the loaner. Should she write some form of formal lettere or just stick it out until they kick her out? she has no interest in keeping up with her payments.

  • syaras

    we been live in this house for 14 years and pay the mortgage true out the 3 lander already also we dont have equity of the house we owe more than the house wort it , do to hard ship what was happens to me i loosed my job and my husband had to quit his job because of his health and age , so we have not pay our mortgage since august 2014 , we still live in the house which the house need a lot of repair but we cant really do anything because we dont have any extra money to do so, we did contact the lander company to let them know with our situation and they told us put the house on the market for sale , but the house still have not sale yet , i just wondering what gone to happen to us are they going to kick us out from the house anytime soon ?, im so scare without knowing what to do or where we going to move too ? any suggestion please

    • laura

      Where are you from? I am be able to help you if your in the right country

  • Jo Ann

    I have a question, I just recently went through a divorce and am having a hard time paying my mortgage. I am paying my mortgage just a few days shy of being 30 days late. Does this affect my credit? Or does it affect the interest on the home? Not sure what negative impact this has on me. I’m trying to decide whether I should just do a short sale.

  • MD

    We have an holiday home with one of the resorts we are not American citizens and due to financial situation in my country which we believe to be temporary for we are been owed over 6 months’ salary which would if we had our salaries regularly would not have made us to missed our mortgage payment, for we have missed payment for 6 months now the lender have sent us foreclosure notice what happens to all the money we have been paying which is more than what we are owing and what are our options for we have up-till next week to sign the foreclosure papers.

  • charlotteI

    My boyfriend and I bought a home together now he wants out !!! Can I apply for the harp program or try to refinance by myself to avoid foreclosure

  • charlotteI

    My boyfriend and I bought a home together and never got married . Now he doesn’t want to help pay anymore notes . Can I refinance without him or apply for one of the programs without him to try to avoid foreclosure?

  • charlotteI

    If my boyfriend won’t help pay anymore notes should I struggle and pay anyway ? Can he be made to help pay since we both are on the loan ? He is still in the home with me but say he is moving out soon

  • Dustin Dennis

    Do you still owe if your home is foreclosed??

  • Endurance Aigbe

    Please, can I get an answer to this question? I need to know this please…
    _Mrs. Yakubu Danjuma contributed the sum of one million naira (₦1m) to Mr. Yakubu Danjuma the husband in buying a residential property in which the family currently resides. This property is in the name of Mr. Yakubu Danjuma. In 2008, Mr. Yakubu Danjuma took a mortgage loan from Zenith Bank with the same property. This loan was used for fish importation. In the same year, before the fish arrived in Nigeria, there was a change in government policy banning fish importation. As a result of this ban, the total consignment was destroyed by the Nigeria Custom Authority upon the arrival of the consignment in the Nigeria shores. This led to a hundred percent (100%) loss for Mr. Yakubu Danjuma. This made it difficult for Mr. Yakubu Danjuma to pay on this loan as at when due. The bank is in the process of selling of the residential property of Mr. & Mrs. Yakubu Danjuma which was used to secure the credit.

    _i.) What are the rights of the bank?_
    _ii.) Will Mrs. Yakubu Danjuma succeed in court if she takes the bank to court?_
    _iii.) What are the rights of Mrs. Yakubu Danjuma as far as this property is concerned?_
    _iv.) In your own view, what would be your recommendation to the bank as far as this transaction is concerned

  • Val Lowe

    My friend is renting and recently found out the owners have not been paying their mortgage since 2013… what will happen to the house and will he be forced to move unexpectedly?

  • Summer Snow

    I recently bought a house through an FHA loan and have only made 3-payments on it so far.The house is a farm house located way out in the country. Both my wife and I are in our late 50’s. Now both mine and my wife’s car have broken down.There is no way I can make a payment this month with both cars down. A car is a necessity where we live. Last year I had treatments for cancer with medical bills piled up that I already can’t pay for. I broke my back in 2009 in which they put me on disability. She lost her job, but it was before we even bought the house. She can’t seem to find another one. We are both on subscription medications. What advice can you give me ?

  • christina pace

    Hi my mom hasn’t paid the mortgage in 6 months. she has a part time job and my dad can’t work because he’s on disability am i gonna lose my house? I’m really scared

  • naven

    My house owner didn’t pay loan back and bank written notice on door that this property belongs to bank. My owner came with a black paint, erased it and asking me to pay rent. What should I do?

  • Chris Ho

    Hello. just want to know, if after the foreclosure, the amount of sold is not cover the loan. for example, if i borrow 1 million to buy a house, and i didnt pay the loan payment and finally foreclosure, the house is sold in a auction and just worth 600,000. that mean, the loan can only cover by half and still have 400,000. do i need to pay back that amount ?