Bankruptcy – a Viable Way Out of an Underwater Mortgage?

Real Estate Sales Representative with Keller Williams Edge Realty, Brokerage

The current economic and housing situation has left many homeowners wondering ‘just how low can it go?”

For those who bought their homes when the housing market was at its peak, the resulting downturn in the economy and subsequent collapse of the real estate market left many homeowners with negative equity on their purchase.

An underwater mortgage is a situation in which a borrower owes more money on a property than the property is actually worth on the open market. While there are several reasons this can happen, the negative correction in the market left many people reeling in debt when the home they purchased was suddenly worth thousands of dollars less than the purchase price of just a few months earlier.

When this happens you only have two choices – either ride it out and hope the market recovers in your favor, or take the other route, which may include a foreclosure, short sale, or declaring bankruptcy.

While a foreclosure or short sale will mean you will no longer have your home, declaring bankruptcy may mean you can continue to live in the house – but with a cost attached that will follow you for many years.

When you declare a bankruptcy you are saying you have no way of paying your creditors and have no current alternatives.

For homeowners, declaring bankruptcy provides an automatic stay while the process gets underway.

Depending on which route you take a bankruptcy can wipe out your debts completely or allow you to work out a new payment plan with a lender.

The good news is that declaring bankruptcy can eliminate most of your debt. The bad news – and this far outweighs the good side of the situation – is that a bankruptcy will follow you around for at least ten years.

Defaulting on all your debts is a serious business and will be treated as such by the courts, lenders, lawyers, and everyone else involved.

Once you have a bankruptcy on your record your credit and financial situation will place you at the bottom of the list when it comes to borrowing.

Forget about having a credit card and trying to get a loan for a new car will be next to impossible.

On top of this you will also end up paying for court and legal fees, which are just another expense to add to your troubles. And just because you declare bankruptcy doesn’t mean the courts will agree that you have no way of paying your debts.

While an underwater mortgage situation may leave you feeling that you are sinking beneath a pile of bills and debt, declaring bankruptcy may be an alternative that will leave you in an even worse situation over the coming years.

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