Many consumers are new home owners because of lax lending rules in recent years, and because of non-conventional loan schemes, including zero-interest, zero-down loans. The bad economy has left many new home owners wondering how bankruptcy will affect their mortgage and their ability to keep their homes. Bankruptcy offers a way to stop the foreclosure sale and to retain your property, even over the foreclosing creditor’s objection!
Facing a foreclosure is something that they never imagined would happen. For them, and perhaps you, the foreclosure is often the result of circumstances beyond their control, such as temporary loss of a job or an illness. An obvious solution to the foreclosure may be to sell the property before the date of the foreclosure sale. However, it is often not possible to conclude the sale before the date of foreclosure. Plus, most people want to keep their home and find a way to get caught up on their payments.
You may be able to stop or avoid home foreclosure and keep your home by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The Oregon & Washington bankruptcy attorneys of Baxter & Baxter, LLP, can advise you on whether you should file for bankruptcy, and whether Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.
Foreclosures under Chapter 13 Bankruptcy In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court enters an order creating a repayment program. The Plan lets the debtor pay off the arrearage, including late payments over the length of a repayment plan, usually three to five years in some cases. The benefit of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that the home owner gets to keep their home and get current on the mortgage over time.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may also help you eliminate the payments on your second or third mortgage altogether. Unlike your first mortgage, which is secured by the property and the value of the property, you may no longer have any equity with which to secure the subordinate mortgages. Under those circumstances, the court may “strip off” the second and third mortgages and recategorize them as unsecured debt. Under Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code, unsecuritized debt takes last priority and often does not have to be paid back at all.
Foreclosures under Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you do not have sufficient income after your bankruptcy to qualify for a repayment plan, it may be necessary to petition for a total liquidation under Chapter 7. If you are not able to afford your mortgage payment after your bankruptcy (for example in the case of death, divorce, or long-term unemployment), the debtor can surrender the property back to the lender. If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the final discharge order will at least discharge the debt, including the deficiency. In some cases, it is possible to reaffirm a mortgage, but at the close of the bankruptcy case, the debtor must immediately get current on the arrearage, including late payments and charges; otherwise the lender can start a new foreclosure proceeding.