Q: I was recently divorced and bought a home. However, I have a rental property in an area which is quite depressed and where crime has increased. Homes in that area are now selling for about $15,000 and there are few renters moving in.

I need to sell the rental property as it has now drained me financially. I missed one payment. I don’t think my bank is likely to accept a short sale. My bank said that they would only consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure if I put the home up for sale and it doesn’t sell in three months.

I have a tenant in the property but he only pays sporadically, and I don’t have the funds to evict him. My credit score is 790 and I live in Georgia.

Do you know how much my score would drop if I did a foreclosure or short sale? I am living hand to mouth and at this point I am thinking to go the route of the foreclosure. I can’t live like this anymore.

A: Earlier this year, a blog post on FICO.com gave some insight into how certain mortgage related problems would impact a person’s FICO credit score. The blog post had a chart that showed the decline in a person’s credit score due to whether a person had been late paying a mortgage, had undertaken a short sale, gone through foreclosure or filed for bankruptcy.

It was interesting to note, that a person with a higher credit score get hit harder with one of these events that a person with a lower credit score.

In your case, their chart indicated that a person with a 780 credit score would lose about 100 points if they were 30 days late on a mortgage payment and about 130 points if there were more than ninety days late on a mortgage payment. If a borrower undertook a short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure or a settlement with a bank where there was not deficiency still owing the bank, the credit score hit would be about 125 points. Finally a short sale with a deficiency reported or a foreclosure would negatively affect a person’s credit score by about 160 points.

The worst thing for a credit score for a person in your situation would be bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would affect a person with your credit score with a drop of about 230 points.

While these numbers are a guide to what might happen to a person in your situation, you need to keep in mind that you credit issues can have a cumulative effect on your credit score. If you are late on your mortgage payments and then undertake a short sale, your credit score might fall 170 points.

You can see the blog post and the charts for various starting credit scores at http://bankinganalyticsblog.fico.com/2011/03/research-looks-at-how-mortgage-delinquencies-affect-scores.html. You can also see a chart there on the number of years it might take you to recover and see your credit score return to its current level.

But at this point, credit shouldn’t be your primary concern. If you’re living hand-to-mouth, you’re in deep trouble financially. If you’ve missed one payment on your loan, your credit history will shortly start to decline. What you need to do is consider stopping all payments, and shoring up your cash reserve. You’ll need it.

Please find a good real estate attorney who can walk you through this process and help protect you if you wind up in foreclosure.