Online Tool Helps You Discretely Explore Options to Foreclosure

Results page Your quiz will yield a result similar to this, but remember: It's not set in stone. Image:

When financial trouble makes it hard to pay your mortgage, it’s hard to talk to a stranger at the bank about your problems. Taking a quick online quiz to see what loan workout programs can help you stop foreclosure is a less painful and simpler way to dip your toe into the loan modification pool.

That’s the idea behind a cool tool on the federal government’s Making Home Affordable website.

Answer 10 quick and relatively easy questions and the tool tells you which government programs might help you avoid foreclosure.

There are two hard questions:

1. Do you have a loan owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

2. Is the payment on your first mortgage (including principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and home owners association dues, if applicable) more than 31% of your current gross income?

Good thing the tool has the phone number to call to find out who guaranteed your mortgage and a calculator that figures out 31% of your gross income for you. Otherwise most of us would get stuck and move on to something easier like finding out what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s out-of-wedlock son calls him. Dad? Uncle?

You can answer the rest of the questions off the top of your head, and if you can’t, you can answer “don’t know” to every question on the quiz — you’ll still get your results in three seconds.

You need a pro, not just a website

Like all the advice you get from the federal government, your quiz results are set in Jello rather than concrete: “Your answers indicate that you may be eligible for the [such and such loan workout program].”

Nothing about the programs aimed at stopping foreclosure is certain except that they involve a long, complicated process. So get an experience mortgage counselor on your side right away.

The phone number (888-995-HOPE) for one of the best, Hope Now, is right there on the Making Home Affordable website, next to the calculator.

If the calculator says you’re eligible for a government program, Hope Now’s counselors can get you started on the process.

Have you called your lender or a mortgage foreclosure help line like Hope Now? Was it helpful?