Data recently released by Standard & Poor shows that home prices have dropped roughly two percent nationwide since June. This news is a grim reminder to homeowners that real estate is dragging behind in the economic recovery. In some cities, notably Phoenix and Las Vegas, home prices are now roughly where they were in 2000, while a 27 percent advance would have been needed to keep pace with inflation.
Some analysts have speculated that the homebuyer’s tax credit artificially supported the housing market, and now that this credit has ended, the impact of foreclosures and a glut of homes for sale will depress prices in many areas. However, an improving economy could offset that trend and increase demand for homes as the job market improves.
In many cases the federal bankruptcy laws can help a family deal with a home that is losing value. During a Chapter 13 bankruptcy a debtor is able to strip away an entirely unsecured second and/or third home lien. A junior lien is unsecured when the senior lien is more than the value of the home. An unsecured junior lien can be stripped and the debt discharged during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy also provides an opportunity to negotiate with the lender for a modification of the debt. In some cases the lender may reduce principle or interest and modify the existing note, making staying and paying on the home a more attractive option.
During Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a debtor is able to walk away from a house and discharge the debt. In this way bankruptcy can be used as a financial tool to relieve the burden of a declining investment.
If you are struggling with debt and overwhelmed by a home that is depreciating in value, speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and discuss your options. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you devise a plan to eliminate your debt and improve your financial situation, both short term and long term.