Dear Dr. Don,
Fourteen years ago, we purchased our first home. We are now coming down the home stretch and have about 14 months left on our mortgage. This year has been tougher and we have been late a few times, but never more than 30 days. It appears to be more of a posting problem than anything.

The financing facility calls us constantly about being a week late. We have paid all that interest and now that we don’t owe much interest they seem to be more aggressive. Am I wrong in assuming that in the state of Ohio it would not be worth its while to foreclose? If this is the case, why is the mortgage lender becoming so nasty?
— Thelma Tardy

Dear Thelma,
Congratulations on getting to this point in homeownership. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sorry that the home stretch has been so rocky for you this year.

Financing your first home with a 15-year mortgage was no doubt a big financial sacrifice. However, it should have saved you a lot of interest expense versus using a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Those 30-day-late pays typically won’t put you anywhere near the lender looking to foreclose on the mortgage, although they can show up on your credit report. Lenders are always looking to increase fee income, and charging you a late fee accomplishes that goal.

Ideally, you want to pay the home mortgage within the grace period. For the typical mortgage, that gives you about 15 days from the due date on the mortgage. Paying after the grace period results in a late fee.

I don’t know any particulars about Ohio law that would make the lender hesitate to foreclose if you were in default on your loan terms. However, it’s certainly something to avoid when you’re this close to paying off the mortgage. The state’s foreclosure Web site, “Save the Dream: Ohio’s Foreclosure Prevention Effort,” can provide you with information on foreclosure prevention if it gets to that point.

Review your credit reports and get a copy of your credit scores to see how all these late pays have influenced your credit. Bankrate provides the contact information for the three main consumer reporting agencies.

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