Saving Your Home in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

39 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2008 Last revised: 14 Aug 2008

See all articles by Michelle J. White

Michelle J. White

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ning Zhu

China Academy of Financial Research (CAFR); Yale School of Management; University of California, Davis - Graduate School of Management

Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

This paper examines how filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 helps financially distressed debtors save their homes. We develop a model of debtors' decisions to default on their mortgages and file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 and evaluate the model using new data on Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers. We also examine the effect of allowing bankruptcy judges to reduce debtors' mortgage payments, i.e., introducing "cram-down" of mortgages in Chapter 13.

We find that 96% of Chapter 13 filers are homeowners and 79% of filers repay mortgage debt in their repayment plans; while just 9% of filers repay only unsecured debt in their plans. These results suggest that filers use Chapter 13 almost exclusively as a "save-your-home" procedure. But under current law, only about 1% Chapter 13 filers save their homes when they would otherwise have defaulted. If cram-down were introduced, we predict that this fraction would increase to 10%. The cost to lenders of introducing cram-down is estimated to be $264,000 per home saved and $30 billion in total.

Suggested Citation

White, Michelle J. and Zhu, Ning, Saving Your Home in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy (July 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14179. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1165507

Michelle J. White (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ning Zhu

China Academy of Financial Research (CAFR)

1954 Huashan Road
Shanghai P.R.China, 200030
China

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~nz26/

University of California, Davis - Graduate School of Management ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-3871 (Phone)
530-752-2924 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.gsm.ucdavis.edu/Faculty/Zhu/

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