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Woman stressing over billsBy Becky Frost

With stretched finances, you might be placed in the uncomfortable position of having to select which bills to prioritize. Can one missed mortgage payment impact your credit? It most definitely can, depending on when you finally make your payment.

Beyond 30 days late

Once your mortgage payment passes the 30 days late threshold, your credit can be affected — and not for the better. Mortgages are large loans, and unlike credit cards can carry a stiffer penalty — depending on the terms laid out in your mortgage agreement — when a payment is late or missed altogether. The bureau, or bureaus, that your lender reports to will be notified, and the delinquent payment can show up on your credit report. Delinquent payments will remain on your credit report for up to seven years and can interfere with your ability to qualify for a future mortgage loan.

Walking away from your mortgage

Paying your mortgage late may impact your credit, but what happens when the burden of your mortgage payment makes you contemplate walking away from your mortgage altogether? Before you consider handing back the keys to your home, realize that a foreclosure or short sale will have a far greater impact on your credit than missing or being late on a payment. From the filing date, your credit report will list the foreclosure for seven years.

Other options to consider

Each scenario is unique, but no matter how challenging it may be to make payments, walking away from your mortgage is likely not the best solution for your credit. Ask your lender about refinancing and other options. Government programs also are available to help you stay afloat while contemplating the decision to walk away from your mortgage. Making an informed decision through the advice of a real estate attorney or respected financial adviser may be just what is needed to maintain your peace of mind and to keep your credit score intact.

Related:

Becky Frost is Senior Manager of Consumer Education for Experian Consumer Services, which offers credit monitoring products like freecreditscore.com™. Find Becky on Google Plus.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.com.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

About the Author

Experian Consumer Services offers credit monitoring products like freecreditscore.com™, which has resources and calculators that help you understand how credit can impact your life. Credit is an important component when buying, renting or refinancing your home.

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