Can some mortgage debt be wiped off?

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Can Some Part of Mortgage Debt be discharged during Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a sure shot way to get rid of huge financial debts. With a bankruptcy discharge, you can wipe off most unsecured debts and get a chance to have a clean financial slate to begin a fresh life. However, secured debts like mortgage and car loans are not discharged during bankruptcy; though, bankruptcy certainly helps you with mortgage debts confirm bankruptcy lawyers of Los Angeles based law firm

Secured debts – Mortgages & Foreclosure

A mortgage loan is a loan taken while purchasing your house. Since it is linked to a specific property, it is a secured loan. The bank has a “lien” or legal right to the property, because of the mortgage loan. If you fail to make payments, the bank can possess your home in lieu of the debt. This is known as foreclosure. When a bank forecloses on any property, it sells it at an auction to recover the dues. In case the home sells for more than what you owe, you are eligible for the extra amount. If it sells for less than what you owe, the difference (between the amount you owe and the selling price of the property) is known as “deficiency.” You might have to pay the deficiency depending on the type of foreclosure.

There are two different kinds of foreclosure proceedings in California: judicial and non-judicial. While a judicial proceeding takes place through the court system, the non-judicial one does not require the creditor a court order to foreclose. In case the property is sold through a non-judicial foreclosure, the lender has no right to collect the deficiency. Thus if the property is sold at a price which is lesser than what you owe, you do not owe the creditor the difference in amounts. However, since judicial foreclosures take place through the legal system, the lender can sue you for any deficiency. Most of the foreclosures taking place in California are non-judicial.

Sometimes, people take out a 2nd or 3rd mortgage loan on their property. In such cases, these lenders have smaller liens on the home, i.e. they have a claim after the original lender’s dues are paid. Thus, if a lender forecloses and sells the home for an amount larger than the primary mortgage, the difference is used to clear the 2nd mortgage and then the 3rd till all the loans are cleared. Once your home is sold through foreclosure all subsequent lenders apart from the primary creditor lose their claim of ownership on the home. The debt, however, remains; for which they can sue you for repayment.

What happens to mortgages during bankruptcy?

In case you are finding it difficult to make your mortgage payments, bankruptcy is an options to delay foreclosure. Different chapters of bankruptcy have a different way to deal with mortgages. To know more about them you can call 888-297-6203 and consult bankruptcy attorneys.

• Chapter 7 bankruptcy and mortgages

When you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, your assets are sorted into exempted and non-exempted types. The non-exempt property is surrendered to the court, sold and the money recovered is used to pay the unsecured creditors. There are two sets of exemption in the state of California, therefore most property of filers is completely protected. Since you are not required to surrender much property after exemption, any remaining unsecured debts are discharged.

Unlike the unsecured debts, your secured debts like mortgage are treated differently. You have to choose if you wish to keep your house or not. In case you don’t want to keep the home or find it difficult to make mortgage payments, you can surrender it during bankruptcy. When you surrender your home, the bank takes charge and sells it in a manner similar to a foreclosure. With the bankruptcy filing, you have the advantage to let go of personal liability in the debt, i.e. you don’t need to pay deficiency if your home sells for less than the debt.
In case you have any junior mortgages on your home, filing for bankruptcy and its subsequent discharge wipes off any personal liability for them too. Thus you are safe from any collector suing you for personal liability on secondary or tertiary mortgages. However, the lenders still have a lien on your home and can foreclose on it; but to do so, they need to pay off the 1st mortgage and other fees. Thus, for junior lenders, foreclosure is not a particularly lucrative option unless the home is worth more than the loan.

• Chapter 13 bankruptcy and mortgages

A detailed report of your income and expenses is submitted to the court in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The court and your bankruptcy attorney device a repayment plan based on your earnings, expenditure and the value of your non-exempt assets. As per the repayment plan, payments are made for 3-5 years, after which the unsecured debts which remain are discharged. The repayment plan first caters to the secured debts like mortgage and car loans and the remaining amount goes towards clearing unsecured debts like medical bills, credit cards, etc.
If you wish to keep your home in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to show that you have means to make regular payments accordingly. If you can do so, the bank allows you to keep your home. At the end of the bankruptcy process, any personal liability for a loan is discharged. Though the bank might be able to foreclose, it can’t sue you for any deficiency.
In case you have any secondary mortgages, you might be eligible for “lien stripping.” In case your home is “underwater”, i.e. worth less than what you owe, the junior liens may be stripped away. When this takes place, the second mortgage holder loses any claim on your home. This way the secondary mortgage debt becomes a normal unsecured debt which can be discharged like other unsecured debts after bankruptcy. If, however, your home is not underwater, you will be required to make payments on secondary mortgages if you wish to avoid foreclosure.

Can some mortgage debt be wiped off?

It is important to note that the primary mortgage is not discharged during bankruptcy. The lender has a lien on the home and can foreclose it. However, with bankruptcy, the lender cannot sue you for any deficiencies. In chapter 13, the only mortgage debt which is wiped off is a junior lien in case of an underwater home. If you qualify and file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an infinite number of deficiencies can be wiped out. Unfortunately, Chapter 13 has a limit capped; your secured debts must be less than $1,149,525 and unsecured debts less than $383,175 to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In case the figures fit your case, Chapter 13 can help get rid of an indefinite amount of deficiency as well as junior liens.
Mortgages are slightly different and complicated to deal with in a bankruptcy case. In case you are having difficulty managing your finances and also have a mortgage to consider, it is important that you consult a bankruptcy attorney for your case evaluation. Get a better idea of how to deal with mortgages when you file for bankruptcy.