The latest home sales reports show that we have a lot to be worried about, and that an economic recovery in the near future cannot be taken for granted. But what's scarier to analysts is an increase in the number of homeowners just beginning to have trouble paying their mortgages.

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Nationally, the percent of loans behind by one payment hit its high in 2009 at 3.77 percent, then fell to 3.31 percent by year end. But today's report from the Mortgage Bankers Association has it moving back higher 3.51 percent.

MBA economists attribute the increasing mortgage problems to continuing high unemployment, and claim that the housing recovery will have to begin with a jobs recovery.

The loan default statistics were the third economic release put out this week; first came a National Realtors Association announcement that July sales of existing homes hit a 15-year low, and the US Commerce Department's report that last month's new home sales were the lowest ever recorded. The only decent piece of news was on the unemployment front, where fewer new claims for benefits were filed.

The MBA report did have some encouraging news: the percentage of loans in default is down for the first time since 2006, although that may be just because record numbers of foreclosures have been completed, taking those homes out of delinquent status.

Some homes may have dropped out of the report because they found new owners. But the tax credit that spurred home sales is now gone. Another troubling booger is that the proportion of prime fixed-rate loans entering going into foreclosure increased nationally, from .69 percent earlier in the year to .71 percent. Prime fixed-rate mortgages are considered low risk loans, but anyone can have mortgage credit problems when they don't have jobs.

So, what can you do to save your home?

Exhaust all resources. Your best bet is to go to Hope Loan Port, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. It's a comprehensive and neutral site that helps you prepare requests for modification and submit them directly to your lender. Both HAMP modifications and private modifications are covered. Remember, there are now forbearance and modification programs for people who have lost their jobs or have had income cuts. You can also connect with free or low-cost home counseling through the site. If you have an FHA home loan, take comfort in the fact that FHA loans go into foreclosure at a lower rate because FHA programs have been more successful than others at helping borrowers save their homes. Finally, if it's your other debts that are keeping you from making your mortgage payment, look into debt management through a reputable non-profit like Consumer Credit Counselors, or if you are very desperate, consult a bankruptcy attorney. You may be able to discharge your other debts, get on a plan to make up your missed payments, and keeo your home. But you won;t know until you try.