Monday, October 12, 2009

Stopping Foreclosure When the Lender Says "NO!"


Bankruptcy is a good option if you are facing foreclosure and cannot get the lender to accept reasonable terms for a modification
; terms that will allow you to either catch up on back payments over time, or which will put the arrearage at the back of the loan.

The filing of any type of Bankruptcy, which is asking for protection from creditors, will stop ALL actions for money, foreclosures, repossessions etc, against you. BUT, for most consumers, only a Chapter 13 will give you the ability to spread out payments for the arrearage over a period of up to 60 months. So, assuming you are 6 months behind in payments of $1,500 each, and there are $3,00 in legal fees because you are in a foreclosure status, and you have $300 in late fees, and the lender has paid $1,200 in taxes for you because your escrow account (where the lender collects money to pay real estate taxes each month as part of the mortgage) is short because you haven't paid in 6 months - you owe the bank $13,500.

Most of us do not have that amount of pocket change, and if you did, you wouldn't be 6 months behind. Spreading that amount of money over 60 months adds only $225 per month to your expenses. Please understand that there is no misunderstanding about a desperate financial situation, but if the arrearage occurred because of a temporary drop in income, for whatever reason, you can get caught up. Too many people give up once they get that far behind because they know they cannot pay $13,000+/- all at once, and once the foreclosure starts, the lender is not inclined to "make a deal".

The Bankruptcy Laws were established so that people could get a "FRESH START". The whole concept is to give people who get into a financial bind a way out, without losing their home, car, retirement accounts etc. Details of the protections a Bankruptcy gives you are on my website . Once in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the United States Bankruptcy Court controls what a creditor can do. If you make payments on time, including the $225/month in the above example, the lender can only sit by a wait until you finish the Plan of payments. If you make all of them, your loan is put back into "regular" good payment status.

Also, if you miss a payment due to a temporary problem (broken arm with no sick time available from your job or a seasonal drop in hours so the overtime you have been counting on isn't available) the lender CANNOT just foreclose. It must ask the Bankruptcy Court for permission and there will be a hearing on the request. There, your lawyer (don't try a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy on your own) can explain the situation to the Court and usually work some type of compromise with the lender. The Bankruptcy Court is there to protect Debtors, provided the Debtors do what they promise.

Further, if you have equity in your house of $30,000, and your payments are $1,000 per month, the Court normally will not allow a foreclosure even if you are 2 or 3 months behind. While that is not specified in the Bankruptcy Code, the concept, called "adequate protection", is clearly spelled out. In essence it states that if the lender is not at risk of losing anything by waiting and using some of your equity to guaranty the arrearage will be paid, then the Court WILL NOT allow the lender to foreclose. The lender has no risk in waiting so you get a chance to get caught up again.

The Bankruptcy laws are complex, but the concept is not. If you are behind in your mortgage payments, and the lender wants to foreclose, and the lender will not "make a deal" with you, and you do not have a lump sum to pay all of what you owe from payments not made, a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing can be used to save your home. You can find a qualified Bankruptcy attorney by going to the website of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys ,, or by calling my office for a "no charge" referral.

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq, August 2009

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