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Bankruptcy Can Provide Leverage to Underwater Homeowner

July 20, 2011

The Washington Post recently reported that the Obama administration is not planning another large federally funded program to relieving the troubled housing market. This news comes despite the President’s acknowledgement that the billions of dollars already spent to bolster the weak housing market has not solved the problem.

The Post reports that the housing market is suffering from a glut of inventory. The article cites David Stevens, head of the Mortgage Bankers Association, who says that it would take more than nine months to sell all of the homes on the market at the current sales rate. To add to this grim news, industry statistics suggest that more than four million homeowners are having trouble paying their mortgages.

In direct opposition to promises made to the federal government, many banks have been reluctant to write down the balances of underwater mortgages. In some cases banks have misled homeowners into spending their savings with false promises of modifying their mortgages. So what can a homeowner do to take control?

The federal bankruptcy law can restore balance between the struggling homeowner and the bank. Filing a bankruptcy will immediately stop the foreclosure process, and provides time to consider available repayment options. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case can force a creditor to accept monthly payments for mortgage arrears over a three to five year period. Additionally, an entirely unsecured junior mortgage can be stripped away and included in a discharge as an unsecured debt.

For those debtors with underwater mortgages, the bankruptcy discharge acts as a hammer during the negotiation process. If the lender refuses to negotiate, the homeowner can walk away through a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy discharge with a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy debtors are also eligible to participate in loan modification programs. Finally, a Chapter 7 case provides an opportunity to negotiate a new contract between the lender and borrower in the form of a reaffirmation agreement.

If you are experiencing trouble with your home mortgage, consult with an experienced Texas  bankruptcy attorney and review your options. The federal bankruptcy law provides a distressed homeowner with options to cure a serious financial problem.

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