Q: Please answer my questions: What is the average time in months a family is involved with loss mitigation? And what suggestions can you please give me to help me maintain my home over the next 12 months? I am single parent with 2 special needs children. Thanks for your help.

A: If you want to save your home, then you should be on the phone with the lender every week, leaving the loan officer a message about what’s going on and staying in touch. The process can take months, but you have to be the driver of it.

A few Sundays ago, I received a call on my weekly radio show from a listener who was in the same position you’re in now. He confirmed that each week for three or four months, he would call the lender and either speak directly to his contact in the loan mitigation department, or leave a message.

He was ultimately able to refinance his home and work it out. The lender told him that the only reason he got the attention is that he was really on the case–almost to the point of annoyance.

Although I’m sure your children are the most important part of your life, the lender isn’t going to care if they’re special needs. All the lender is going to care about is can you afford to pay the mortgage each month, and what has to happen to get you there (and off the lender’s desk).

You’ll be in the strongest position if you call your lender before you’ve been late on a payment. If you’re already late, call as quickly as possible to start the ball rolling.

You may need some extra help. A real estate attorney who works in the world of foreclosures may be able to guide you better. You might also try a local housing counselor. You can find one on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website (Hud.gov) or by calling 888-995-HOPE, or by going to CCCS of Greater Atlanta, an organization that works nationally and has certified housing and bankruptcy counselors (www.cccsatl.org).

Good luck.