Foreclosure. That’s a scary word for homeowners. By the time those words get mentioned, the situation has gotten very serious. You can’t afford to dither; you are teetering on the brink.

See where you are on the foreclosure timeline:

— You skipped the first payment on your mortgage. Expect calls and maybe a letter from your lender. If you are in a temporary jam due to personal or other circumstances, a housing counselor can offer assistance.

— The second month’s payment is now past due. Your mortgage company is wondering what’s up. Dodging their calls will never resolve your situation. You need to devise a plan to get current, but if you talk with them and make a single installment, that can buy you some time. You are strongly urged to speak with a housing counselor.

— Once your third month’s payment is in arrears, your options are dwindling but there is still time to work with a housing counselor and save your home. Expect the demand letter listing your delinquency amount and notifying you of the 30 days to bring it current. Do not ignore this letter.

— At the fourth missed payment, the lender’s attorneys get involved and you start racking up legal fees — for their attorneys, not yours. But a housing counselor may still be able to help.

— Your property goes up for Sheriff’s Sale on the day the foreclosure takes effect. The date of that is anywhere from weeks to months, but in urban areas with backlogged courts it can be longer.

— There is a redemption period after the sale where you can repurchase your property, plus all fees, fines and penalties.

A far better alternative is to stop foreclosure in its tracks by filing for bankruptcy, giving yourself a chance to reorganize your debt and save your home.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Are you at risk of foreclosure and losing your home?,” accessed Aug. 05, 2016