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What situations can put my home at risk?

The Great Recession of 2008 is over. There are a lot of people still feeling the pain of that very tough time, however. And though fewer folks in Illinois are suffering the same level of economic hardship of a few years ago, there are still plenty in difficulty.

It doesn't take a lot for a homeowner to be suddenly under water financially. A debilitating health condition that results in massive medical bills that insurance doesn't fully cover can do it. In some parts of the country, the issue might be earthquakes or floods for which no insurance coverage is in place.

Whatever the circumstance, one of the risks in such situations can be foreclosure on a home on which a mortgage is owed. But before simply dodging the issue to the point of no return, it makes greater sense to consult with real estate law experts to understand what the options are so that you can retain as much control of matters as is possible.

We are not in a position to speculate about whether a 90-year-old World War II veteran in Buffalo had the benefit of that understanding before he lost his home in foreclosure. What we do know is that his case is not all that extraordinary. And the good news is that the story appears to be on track to end happily.

According to the story, the man and his late wife had lived in the home for some 50 years. She died last year. Their last year's together had been a struggle. She suffered from Alzheimer's disease. In his effort to care for her in her final years, he fell behind on the mortgage.

In July of this year, after foreclosure, authorities evicted the man and he moved into an apartment. Because the mortgage was under a Department of Housing and Urban Development guarantee, the agency took possession of the 3,200-square-foot home. Then, it gave the veteran's family first right of refusal to buy the place back for the appraised value of $46,000.

Up until Oct. 19, it looked like that opportunity was going to die, but news of the veteran's plight sparked an eleventh-hour run of donations from across the country and now it appears the family will be able to buy the home by a Nov. 5 deadline -- just in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

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