Foreclosure Prevention

It is a top priority of the Register of Deeds and the County Treasurer to help you keep your home or property. We want property owners to know that there are options available, if they find themselves moving toward foreclosure. The materials and links below could be the help you need to keep your home.

Letter from ROD Michele Cooke regarding foreclosure fraud

Due to recent incidents of potential foreclosure fraud and improperly filed property documents related to the national scandal surrounding so-called “robo-signing” by companies such as MERS and DOCx, Emmet County Register of Deeds Michele Cooke has written a letter to the residents of Emmet County explaining the circumstances and what they should do if they need assistance.

To read Cooke’s letter, click on the link below.

Michele Cooke letter Sept. 2011

General Information

Definition: Foreclosure is a legal process by which a bank, mortgage company or other creditor takes a homeowner’s property in order to satisfy a debt. The foreclosure is the result of non-payment of the mortgage (including second mortgages and home equity loans); however, people also lose their homes or start the mortgage foreclosure process due to unpaid property taxes. As a result of foreclosure (at the end of the redemption period), the homeowner loses the rights he or she had to the property.

Your home, more than likely, is the largest asset you will ever own. The Deed to your home is banked or recorded at the Register of Deeds Office. All the loans (mortgages, unpaid tax liens, etc.) against this home are recorded/deposited in our office.

When you purchase your home, you usually have 4 basic expenses: Monthly Payment, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. These four expenses combined usually make up your monthly payment. If you fail to make your monthly payments your bank has a right to begin foreclosure proceedings against you.

If you are responsible for paying your taxes (instead of including them in your monthly payment) and you stop paying them, your bank (when they become aware) will usually take over and make these payments for you. They are willing to do this, because if the taxes remain unpaid, the Treasurer’s Office can take your home and the bank is left with nothing. Once the lender has paid your taxes, you will have to repay the bank, rather than the respective government unit. As a result the bank, at this time, can start foreclosure proceedings against you.

When the bank starts foreclosure proceedings against you that is referred to as a Mortgage Foreclosure or Sheriff’s Sale.

Banks typically protect their loan by buying the foreclosed mortgage back at the Sheriff’s Sale. The purchasers of that foreclosed mortgage must keep an eye on the number of mortgages on a property and the Treasurer’s Office Tax Foreclosure Sale. Tax foreclosures trump mortgage foreclosures in terms of who ends up with the property.

Helpful links:

Foreclosure Timeline

Foreclosure Q & A

Tips to Avoid Mortgage Foreclosure

    1. Don’t ignore the problem. The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and the more likely that you will lose your home.
    2. Contact your lender as soon as you realize that you have a problem. Lenders do not want your home. They have options to help borrowers through difficult financial times.
    3. Open and respond to all mail from your Lender. The first notices you receive will offer good information about foreclosure prevention options that can help you weather financial problems. Later mail may include important notices of pending legal action. Failure to open mail will not be an excuse in foreclosure court.
    4. Know your mortgage rights. Find your loan documents and read them so you know what your lender may do if you can’t make your payments. Learn about foreclosure laws by contacting the Michigan State Housing Development Authority at 517-373-8370.
    5. Understand foreclosure prevention options. Valuable information about foreclosure prevention (also called loss mitigation) options can be found at the Federal Housing Administration website.
    6. Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds free or low-cost housing counseling nationwide. Housing counselors can help you understand the law and your options, organize your finances, and represent you in negotiations with you lender if you need this assistance. To find a HUD approved counselor click here, or call 1-800-569-4287 or TTY 1-800-877-8339.
    7. Prioritize your spending. After health care, keeping your house should be your first priority. Review your finances and see where you can cut spending in order to make your mortgage payment. Look for optional expenses that you can eliminate such as cable TV, membership or entertainment.
    8. Don’t lose your home to foreclosure recovery scams. If any firms claim they can stop your foreclosure immediately if you sign a document appointing them to act on your behalf you may well be signing over the title to your property and becoming a renter in your own home. Never sign a legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice from an attorney, a trusted real estate professional, or a HUD approved counselor.
    9. Avoid foreclosure prevention companies. You don’t need to pay fees for foreclosure prevention help, use that money to pay the mortgage instead. Many for-profit companies will contact you promising to negotiate with your lender. While these may be legitimate businesses, they often charge a hefty fee (often two or three month’s mortgage payments). Contact your lender or a HUD-approved housing counselor to find out about free help that they can provide.

For a list of other counseling services, visit
Resources can also be found online at or by calling (866) 946-7432; ask about the “Save the Dream” program.


  • Don’t lose your home and damage your credit history.
  • Call or write your bank immediately and be honest about your finances.
  • Stay in your home to make sure you qualify for assistance.
  • Arrange an appointment with a housing counselor (most are free).
  • Cooperate with the counselor or bank trying to help you.
  • Explore every alternative to keeping your home.
  • Beware of scams and predatory lenders.
  • Don’t sign anything you don’t understand.

Once you are in foreclosure you retain control of your property for 6 months, 12 months if you have more than 3 acres. During this time you can refinance or sell your home. Everyone has choices. When faced with foreclosure you must take advantage of all your choices.


Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention & Information:

How To Avoid Foreclosure

VA Loan – Avoiding Foreclosure

Freddie Mac on Avoiding Foreclosure 

Predatory Lending

Home Lending and Foreclosure Scams

IRS Questions on Home Foreclosure and Debt Cancellation

Foreclosure Prevention Resource Center

Foreclosure Prevention Toolkit

Home Ownership

Federal Trade Commission – “Looking for the Best Mortgage” 

Federal Housing Administration – US Department of Housing and Urban Development 

Homebuyers Checklist 

Prioritize Your Debt

Financial Security: Managing Money in Tough Times

Career Development, Budgeting, Credit 101, Debt Management, Family Stress & Money & More

MERS/Michigan foreclosures

To read an article about illegal foreclosures in Michigan that could affect foreclosed homes, click here.

Emmet County, Michigan
200 Division Street, Petoskey MI 49770
(231) 348-1702 | Contact Us