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Decreased foreclosure rate in Michigan may offer false hope

Many Ann Arbor residents know what it's like to face financial challenges. While some people are able to dig their way out, for others, that is simply impossible. When times are tough - whether due to a job loss, divorce or medical bills - it's easy to fall behind on mortgage payments. However, when an individual or family goes long enough without making payments, foreclosure can become a very real possibility.

Foreclosure numbers for March in Michigan were recently released. There were half as many foreclosures this March as there were in March of last year. Additionally, the state saw close to a 33 percent drop from February to March. And while some may see these numbers as reason for celebration, others say they may be deceiving.

Although foreclosure numbers are down, the time it takes to complete a foreclosure is the highest it has ever been in Michigan. Because foreclosure cases here are not heard by a judge, it often takes longer for them to be processed. Currently, the average foreclosure takes 477 days to complete. This is 63 days longer than the end of 2012.

Facing foreclosure is a frightening experience. For many people a home is more than just a place to sleep at night. Many families have built traditions and memories in a home that they would be devastated to lose. Fortunately, there are ways to fend off foreclosure.

First, some lenders are being more lenient with offering mortgage modifications, so that may be an option for some people. Others who are less attached to their homes may find that a short sale is a better option for them. Finally, filing for bankruptcy is a good option when you are completely overwhelmed with debt.

Source: The Detroit News, "Michigan foreclosures dive in March," Brian J. O'Connor, April 11, 2013

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