Maybe you bought more house than you could afford. Now you’re struggling to make your monthly payments and are worried you’re facing foreclosure. Fortunately, you still have some options.

To prevent foreclosure, you’ll want to do as much as you can to make your monthly mortgage payments. That may mean taking a second or third job to bring in some extra cash each month.

One thing is certain: you won’t prevent foreclosure if you bury your head in the sand. Make sure to talk to your lender to prevent foreclosure. Tell your lender what’s going on. And if you call your lender’s hotline and don’t get good results, ask to speak to a supervisor.

If your mortgage lender has a local office it may be a good idea to go in person to talk to the office manager and describe your situation.

Tell the lender: “I have a hardship, instead of the check’s in the mail,” advises Robin Stout Migala, a senior delinquency resolutions manager at Freddie Mac.

Tell the lender whether you want to keep your home and that you know there are workout options that can help you, Stout Migala says. Tell the lender you want to work with him or her to get your payments caught up.

“It sounds simple, but it’s enormously helpful,” Stout Migala says. Being honest with your lender can go a long way toward preventing foreclosure from happening to you.

Remember, lenders want to prevent foreclosure too — they lose money if they have to foreclose on your house. That’s why they send letters or call on the phone — they’re trying to reach you.

Foreclosure means you’ll lose your home. But, it also damages your credit. And with bad credit it’s harder to rent an apartment, qualify for a car loan, buy cheap insurance policies or even get a new job. You may find you need to get a co-signer or need to move in with relatives.

Preventing foreclosure saves your home, but it also gives you peace of mind.

Another way to prevent foreclosure is to be informed. Know how much money you owe on your mortgage. Understand how many payments you have missed and ask what your options are. Freddie Mac and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) both have Web sites that detail your options.

In some cases you can prevent foreclosure and keep your home by getting the lender to agree to forbearance. This means you won’t have to pay your mortgage for a few months until you’re back on your feet. The payments you skip will be added to the original loan balance so your mortgage may grow, but at least you’ll be able to keep your home and prevent foreclosure.

You should also talk to housing counselors at a non-profit housing organization or through HUD. Because they are not your lender, they can objectively help you understand your options.

Finally, you can call 888-995-HOPE, a hotline dedicated to helping homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

Feb. 13, 2008.