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Can I Modify my Home Mortgage in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Mrs. Free's Studios Davenport, Iowa

Mrs. Free’s Studios Davenport Iowa

Can I Modify my Home Mortgage in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

  • Schedule Your Free Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Home Loan Modification Consultation




Yes – you can modify your home mortgage in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy by Stripping Off The Second Mortgage and other junior liens.

Today, you can modify your home mortgage in two ways:  Get a modification from the lender or file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and attempt to strip off the second mortgage on your home.  Oftentimes, this will reduce the balance on your mortgage by 30%.  While this isn’t perfect, it is oftentimes, the difference between being able to keep your home or being forced to surrender it in foreclosure.

So how does this work.? First it is important to determine whether you should file bankruptcy.  Second you need to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Third, your bankruptcy attorney files an adversary procedure with the court to rule that the value of your home is less than the balance on  your first mortgage.  Fourth get the Chapter 13 plan confirmed by the court whereby the second (third, fourth, fifth and any junior mortgages) are wholly unsecured and will be paid as unsecured creditors.  At the end of the plan (60 months), the second mortgage and all other junior mortgages are released by the lender and the debtor/s is left with a home with only one mortgage.

Does this work in real life applications?  In the last year over 40% of our firms Chapter 13’s had successful plan confirmations with the second mortgage being stripped.    On average this reduced the principal by 30% on the home indebtedness.

So what is not so great?  The first mortgage still has to be paid off in full with all of the arrearages paid back over 60 months along with the costs of collection plus the first mortgage may still have a balance that is more than the home can be sold for…so why has the court allowed this to occur – the answer is in the intent of the bankruptcy code, the idea was that if home mortgages could be modified in bankruptcy, why would anybody pay their mortgage?  Therefore, to save the ability for consumer to get home mortgages from banks, the bankruptcy code strictly prohibits the modification of a home mortgage this is wholly or even partially secured even if secured by only $1.

Bottom line – Chapter 13 offers a crude type of home mortgage modification by getting rid of unsecured mortgages, however, it does not fix long term problems with a first mortgage.  If your first mortgage is OK by itself then this type of modification is for you.  If your first mortgage is still a problem, then it may be wise to simply surrender the home in the bankruptcy and let the lender take the loss.

What are we seeing now is unbelieveable – it never used to happen in the past, but it is happening now: After filing the bankruptcy  and after stripping the second mortgage, the lender on the first mortgage voluntarily modifies the first mortgage to make the plan easier.

So what is this all about?

Well…here’s the best way to describe it.  Typically, the interest rate is reduced to 2% for the first five years and it increases by 1/2% per year after that until it hits the market rate and then becomes fixed at that rate.  The kicker is that the bank will put the arrears on to the balance of the loan.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is!  If your old mortgage payment was $2400 per month and you were 10 months behind at the time of your bankruptcy filing, then you owe $24,000 in arrears.  In a typical 60 month chapter 13 plan, you will pay $24,000/60 per month to pay back these arrears.  This is $400 per month.  In this case, the bank basically put this into the balance.  So basically, you are now paying 2% interest on $24,000 over the next 30 years or so.  Around $50 per month.  The benefit is theoretically that your home if you keep it for 15 years will finally be worth more than the mortgage; you can sell it, pay off the mortgage and have a happy life.  This is all true with one caveat.  What if you have to get out of the house one year after your bankruptcy ends and you are still “underwater”   Good luck – you just entered another bankruptcy or years of garnishments.

In a nutshell – if you want to live in your house a long time and don’t have a big need to move soon and don’t believe you will be forced to move, then this is the ticket.  Basically, the bank cuts its price on loaning you the money.  But if you need to be more flexible and actually have the debt load be less immediately, then you are out of luck and better surrendering the home in bankruptcy.

Examples:

Ron and Karla bought a home in 2006 for $200,000.  The first mortgage was $160,000 from Wells Fargo.  The Second Mortgage for $40,000 was from Banco Popular.  Ron and Karla were doing great until Karla lost her job in 2008.  The couple missed 8 payments.  The couple was five months into their foreclosure action when they filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

Ron and Karla hired David Nelson to file their Chapter 13.  David suggested that they keep their home, but attempt to strip off the second mortgage.  Ron and Karla agreed.

Ron and Karla make approximately $70,000 per year together and have two children.  Their budget is tight and the means test says that they need to contribute on 10% of their plan to paying unsecured creditors.

Ron and Karla have no other debts besides the home.  Their mortgage payment was $1400 on the first mortgage, $500 on the second and their tax escrow was $300 per month.

Ron and Karla were $11,200 in arrears on their first mortgage when they filed their bankruptcy.

Here is how their plan payment is figured.

$1400 for payment of the first mortgage regular payment
$300 for tax escrow payment on the first mortgage
$67  (10% of $40,000 divided by 60 months) for payment of the unsecured second mortgage
$187  ($11,200 divided by 60 months)
$1954 Subtotal
$195  Trustee Fee (10% of payment)
$2149 total payment

So how does this work out with their budget

$70,000 Gross Income Per Year
$5833 Per Month Gross
($1458)  Taxes
$4375 Net Income Per Month

$2149 Plan Payment
$250  Gas & Electric
$800  Food
$194  Clothing
$100  Laundry
$250  Medical
$502  Transportation
$130  Auto Insurance
$4375  Subtotal

Square Budget.  Home Saved.  Overall home mortgage modified by overall reduction by 20%

Bottom line – this Chapter 13 accomplishes good things.  With other applications we might have an auto loan, additional credit card debt or other unsecured debt.  For those discussions, please see my other blog postings.

For more information about bankruptcy, mortgage modification or other debt relief options, please call NLO Nelson Law Office at 877-464-6656 or email us at info@nelsonlawoffice.com

illinois past due assessments

illinois past due assessments

Should I pay them, hide or not worry about this?

The answer: If you are moving out, the assessment bill dies as it regards you at the time the unit is either sold at foreclosure or simply sold.

Another way the assessment is recovered is when the unit is leased by the condominium association.  Here’s the kicker – when you file bankruptcy, you surrender your interest in the unit, but it isn’t actually transferred to someone else, instead, your lender would eventually foreclose on the unit or take it back via a deed in lieu of foreclosure.  Not to complicate this answer, but essentially, today because of the desire to clear title of multiple mortgages, it generally takes a foreclosure sale to transfer the property to a new owner.  However, if you move out after the bankruptcy, the condominium association still has to evict you to get clearance to lease out the unit to pay association fees.  The best thing you can do is to release your interest to the condominium association so that your unit is not empty, the association stays out of default and eventually you are released from the liability of ownership in the sheriff’s sale.

Bottom line:  An occupied unit is always best for everyone.  Therefore, if you are staying, pay your assessments until you are told by the lender to leave.  If you are leaving, help the association by releasing your interest so they can rent your unit.

Home Prices Take A Tumble In 2010 – Short Sales, Deeds In Lieu & Deficiency Judgments – NLO Nelson Law Office

Home Prices Take A Tumble In 2010 – Short Sales, Deeds In Lieu & Deficiency Judgments – NLO Nelson Law Office  It is hard to believe that between 1950 and 2008; home prices rarely climbed less than an average of 8% return.  In some years there might be no appreciation and in other years, double digit gains. The figures are hard to pin down, but if we can believe it, between 2009 and 2010 home prices in Chicago dropped 20%.  Think about it.  It’s crazy.  We’ve been told for years that these investments can’t fail and the prices never go down.  Do you remember the phrase – “better get in now before prices go up”.  The failed housing market or bubble burst has ruined realtors, loan officers and most importantly home owners who could barely afford and really weren’t qualified to buy a home.

Right now most experts believe foreclosure filings will peak in 2012 and decline thereafter.  Most experts are calling for another 15% drop in prices in this year with a flat period for many years thereafter.  What is troubling is the similarity between the great depression and our present situation.  Many people are chronically unemployed with no unemployment benefits and our government is surprisingly silent.

For our firm, we are seeing far less Chapter 7 bankruptcies where people are coming in with fees.  We think it is because people are heavily in debt, without income and just wanting to clean things up before they head back to work.  For most people it means waiting to file a Chapter 7 until just after you have been at a job for about 4 months.  This is about the lag time between starting a new job and garnishments catching up to you.

For people looking to avoid a bankruptcy but wanting to get out of their property, a short sale can be great.  The problem traditionally has been that lenders intentionally stalled to cause failures and force foreclosures.  Now, lenders are softening up as they find they can be more profitable in a short sale.  One thing you may have noticed,  nothing involved is done to benefit the borrower or preserve creditworthiness or home ownership – this is strictly an attempt to improve profitability.

A deed in lieu of foreclosure is where a borrower asks the lender to take back the property by allowing the owner to sign over the over property via deed and avoid having the bank file foreclosure.  In the old days, the property would often be sold by the bank at a price high enough to pay off the mortgage and the borrower simply walked away from a house he or she didn’t want.  Today,  lenders won’t even consider a deed in lieu unless you have failed to sell your home (for any price) for six months or sometimes a little less.   Often times, someone will buy the house as a short sale instead of having the bank take the house back through a deed in lieu.

What’s disturbing is that most borrowers face a deficiency judgment…. so what’s this.  Well, basically it’s like a credit card debt that often is $80,000 or more and most lenders SELL IT at 2 cents on the dollar to a collection agency that sues the borrower and garnishes their wages forever.  Does this sound bad?  Yes.  Unfortunately, this is exactly what is sending many good families into bankruptcy and I can’t think of a way that my clients can avoid it.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. CALL 877-GO-GO-NLO (877-464-6656) FOR A FREE BANKRUPTCY CONSULTATION TODAY! SATURDAY APPOINTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE.