Your home is your biggest asset and one that brings you much pride. Owning a home is a big responsibility that comes with a lot of work. Unfortunately, hard times can fall on good people through no fault of their own, leaving them at risk of mortgage debt problems and even losing their home to foreclosure.

Before you buy a home, take the time to follow some important steps to reduce your chances of mortgage debt trouble.

First, know how much you can truly afford before home shopping. Financial experts recommend keeping your mortgage payment to 25% or less of your total monthly income. Once you calculate an appropriate payment amount you can shop within your range.

Second, include an estimate in your mortgage budget for additional costs like insurance, taxes, and repair costs. These expenses should be factored into the overall cost of your home.

Third, only shop for homes in the range that you calculated to carry a mortgage payment of less than 25% of your income. Taking a quick look at homes above your range puts you at risk of overspending.

If you already own a home and are worried about mortgage debt, follow these steps to maximize chances of keeping your home out of foreclosure.

First, set up an automatic withdrawal of your mortgage payment through your bank. This ensures that you don't accidentally miss a payment. If you don't think you will be able to make your payment for any reason, don't let the payment lapse on purpose. Cut expenses elsewhere and contact your lender.

Second, don't wait to contact your lender. If you think you may soon or already have missed a payment, get in touch with them right away to discuss your options. Believe it or not, most lenders do not want the hassle of the foreclosure process either. Lenders are often willing to help you develop a plan to ensure you can make your payment or get caught up on missed payments.

Third, always work with a professional when negotiating with mortgage lenders. Contact a bankruptcy lawyer in Sacramento to discuss your options for resolving mortgage debt. You may be able to modify your existing loan or eliminate other debts through the bankruptcy process while you continue your mortgage loan payments.