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To avoid foreclosure, you should know from the beginning what your total monthly housing costs will be, including taxes, insurance and homeowners dues, says Troy Doucet, author of “23 Legal Defenses to Foreclosure: How To Beat The Bank.”

“Don’t even consider that you might earn more money in the future,” Doucet says. “Just figure out if you can make the payments right now.”

Lenders want no more than 31% of your total income to go to mortgage debt, and your total debt including your mortgage shouldn’t exceed 38%, Doucet says.

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