We had our home repossessed in 2003 after our business failed. It was an incredibly stressful time and we ended up moving back with my parents for a short time.
We were able to go on the council list and after eight months we got a flat on the other side of town. We have continued renting here ever since, our credit rating is destroyed so we're unlikely to ever buy again. The rent is cheaper anyway and in a way it's more secure than a mortgage. DH was made redundant last year and is on JSA but we've been able to get benefits to cover the rent so our home isn't at risk, which it would be if we had a mortgage.
Check out the boards on MSE, I found them really helpful in explaining the different steps along the way. We also had help from the CAB which I'd recommend as well.
Would you recommend trying to sell first? We haven't missed a mortgage payment yet and so are not in arrears or anything but DH's business is in trouble and I can see no light at the end of the tunnel. We own about 75-80% of the house but still owe the bank about £100,000 plus DH has business loans of about £200,000. All payments are being met at the moment, just, but this can't continue much longer.
How many months mortgage did you miss before being repossessed?
The bank I work for wouldn't start any plans for repossession until 6 missed mortgage payments (used to be 3 before credit crunch), however if you speak to them you may be able to arrange a payment holiday to give you a chance to sort your finances out, or transfer the mortgage to interest only payments, which would (roughly) halve your monthly payments to the mortgage.
I think we do have insurance to cover mortgage payments, I don't think we would qualify in this situation though. DH told me last night that profits for last year have doubled but the bank demanding early repayment has taken all that and more. It would be so bad if the firm collapsed in the face of such strong growth just because the bank called in its loan.
If you think you are going to start having difficulty making the payments, you need to talk to your lender now. The earlier you talk to the them, the more options they have to help/guide you. They might have a Payment Assistance Line who can offer things such as interest only conversions or term extensions to lower the payments or payment breaks.
Once you are in arrears, your options begin to become more limited. Don't assume that the minute you can't make your payment they'll come for the keys. If you are upfront and honest and stay in contact they may well have ways to help you.
Here is the link to the MSE boards that daisy mentioned.
I've never been repossessed but I do work for a bank helping people who are in arrears with their mortgages.