Where's My Equity?

It’s the American Dream.

Historically, when someone bought real estate, they could feel safe that their home would eventually turn into an investment. Homeowners paid their mortgage and as house prices increased, so did the equity in their property. This equity was often used to save for retirement, help pay for a child’s education, pay off medical or credit card debts, and often was used for maintenance to the property itself (such as to fix a furnace, roof, or kitchen).

Unfortunately, times have changed.

Due to the current economy and substantial drop in home values, many homeowners no longer have any equity in their home. For some, they are currently struggling with a second mortgage, a home equity line, or even a third mortgage.

As the cost of living has increased and people’s salaries have decreased, some homeowners are unable to continue with the status quo. Some are abandoning their homes and allow them to be foreclosed, while others are borrowing from family and friends only to struggle to make each monthly payment. However, there can be a better solution.

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a personal reorganization of debt. Within the US Bankruptcy Code, the US Bankruptcy Court has the authority to determine a secured claim. Under section 506(a)(1) a secured claim is defined as only “to the extent of the value of such creditor’s interest in the estate’s interest in such property”.

This means that if a homeowner was to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and the value of their home was LESS than the first mortgage, a second mortgage or home equity loan can be stripped away upon completion and discharged under section 1328(a) of the US Bankruptcy Code.

For example, if you own a home that has been appraised for $200,000.00 and your first mortgage is $230,000.00 and second mortgage is $50,000.00, you potentially could file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and, upon Court order, discharge that second mortgage of $50,000.00. This means that at the conclusion of your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and upon receipt of your discharge, you would be free of that second mortgage forever.

By eliminating that debt, it may be more manageable to keep your home and make it easier to rebuild equity in the future.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact Moore Ames Law, PLLC at 603-232-6189 or robert.moore@mooreames.com to speak to an experienced attorney.