With the holidays coming up, homeowners will be stretched financially. Foreclosures rose to unprecedented levels in 2016 due to the loss of jobs and the steep decline in real estate values. Banks and mortgage companies also face the strains of a tough economy. Stressed homeowners should consider the following strategies to avoid being evicted from their home during this holiday season.

Proactively Call the Mortgagor/Bank

The best strategy to avoid foreclosure is to call the bank before a payment is missed. Borrowers, who let the bank know they have lost their job or face some other serious financial strain, will be more likely to get relief if they call before they are behind in their payments. While there are lots of items to be concerned with when a job loss occurs, “call the mortgage company” should top the list.

Compose Assets and Liabilities

Think like a business here. The faster a borrower can provide the bank or mortgagor proof that he/she faces financial hardship, the easier it will be to get some relief. Taking a half day to gather all sources of income and sources of expenses will go along way. Be prepared to send out multiple copies of the latest documentation (i.e., paystubs, bills, canceled checks, etc.).

Keep Records of Bank Contacts

Be patient, but persistent once the information is sent to the institution. Borrowers should keep a regular record of exactly who they talk to at the bank and when they called them. A good paper trail can help the bank stay on to of their records. Don’t be surprised if the people at the bank are frustrated and overwhelmed. Many banks were not prepared for the sheer number of people that would be calling and requesting modifications.

Be timely with all requests. Any requests for information should be completed the same day or the next day. Remember, the sooner the bank receives the information, the sooner the borrower can receive some kind of relief.

Be Open to All Options (Short Sales, Deferred Interest, Reduced Rate, etc.)

Most banks are willing to work with borrowers in good times, so it should be no surprise that they are willing to offer borrowers a variety of solutions to their problem. If the set back is temporary, they may consider changing the loan to interest-only for a period of three to six months. If it seems longer-term, the bank may suggest a short sale. Be open to all options. Even if a borrower has to sell their home at the bank’s request, they still maintain a good credit rating and have the opportunity to move to a place that they can afford.

Always be patient and kind. Remember, the borrower needs the bank much more than the bank needs the borrower. Additionally, banks are understaffed and that staff is definitely overworked. Be willing to explain the situation as many times as necessary and be timely with documentation. These strategies should help most troubled borrowers avoid foreclosure.