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With many Australians living from paycheck-to-paycheck, navigating creditors, lenders, and debt collectors can seem like a full-time job. As a result of this financial uncertainty, it may seem as though your prospects for homeownership are slim. However, even if you’re juggling phone calls from collection agencies, there are still steps you can take, including learning more about debt collection harassment, home equity loans, and what you need to be aware of when it comes to your credit report.

Consolidate Your Debt

Perhaps you were a little too liberal with a line of credit that had a high-interest rate. Maybe you took out a large loan amount to pay for schooling or emergency expenses. What about a car loan to make commuting easier? All of these, and more, can cause lenders to be a little hesitant when it comes to a home equity line of credit. You may have even found yourself with a written notice from a debt collector or collection agency. Now, your first step is to consolidate that debt so your debt-to-income ratio isn’t so high as to cause concern.

By consolidating your credit card and student loans, as well as lines of credit from other lenders, you’ll be able to knock down that debt ratio to what is an overall lower monthly payment. This makes you much more qualified for a home equity loan or mortgage loan from a creditor. Note that you may not be eligible for certain home equity loans or debt consolidation if your credit score is still quite low, though this may depend on the type of loan as well as, ultimately ask how much can you borrow for a home loan.

Ditch the Debt Collectors

If you’ve ever fallen behind on a payment, or payment wasn’t properly posted, you’ve likely seen an impact on your credit score. As you possibly know, there is a statute of limitations, so to speak, when it comes to how long items remain in your credit history. Some debt collectors make this difficult to navigate. If you know the collection agency or debtor holding your debt, it’s important to reach out to them to arrange a payment plan and show that you’re taking steps towards improving your financial health, regardless of how much money you currently make.

Sometimes, however, bill collectors and debt collectors can act in a predatory way. If this is the case, you may want to go to the original creditor and see about repayment through them. But that creates another difficulty: Even if you’ve paid your debt, what if the debt collection process never stops?

Constant flags on your credit score can reduce potential loan amounts, necessitate a second mortgage or a higher interest rate, and even increase your monthly mortgage payment. Unfortunately, there are plenty of abusive debt collectors in the world that will not hesitate to partake in creditor harassment. If you’re wary of deceptive practices by a debt collection agency and are concerned about how that may impact your gross monthly income and homeownership eligibility, your next step may be to contact a debt collection harassment attorney.

If a debt collector is found to be in violation of the law and you have adequate representation, you may be able to get your attorney’s fees and court costs waived in some cases. Many offer a free initial consultation, especially if you’re working with an experienced debt collection harassment attorney. You have the legal right to seek recourse for collection harassment and the constant collect calls and emotional distress it can cause, no matter the amount of the debt. Don’t be afraid to seek legal advice against abusive debt collection policies.

Homeownership isn’t impossible if you have debt. It’s simply a little harder. Go through your finances, look at repayment terms and mortgage calculators, and always avoid companies with a history of abusive debt collection practices. When you own a home, you need to think about your monthly mortgage payment, not constant collection activity.

Jasmin Peters