The Homeownership Experience of Households in Bankruptcy

31 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2008

See all articles by Sarah W. Carroll

Sarah W. Carroll

United States Department of Justice

Wenli Li

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Date Written: August 13, 2008


This paper provides the first in-depth analysis of the homeownership experience of households in bankruptcy. The authors consider households who are homeowners at the time of filing. These households are typically seriously delinquent on their mortgages at the time of filing. The authors measure how often they end up losing their houses in foreclosure, the time between bankruptcy filing and foreclosure sale, and the foreclosure sale price. In particular, they follow homeowners who filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy between 2001 and 2002 in New Castle County, Delaware, through October 2007. They present three main findings. First, close to 30 percent of the filers lost their houses in foreclosure despite filing for bankruptcy. The rate rose to over 40 percent for those who were 12 months or more behind on their mortgage payment, about the same fraction as among those who entered into foreclosure directly. Second, filing for bankruptcy allowed those who eventually lost their houses to foreclosure to remain in their houses for, on average, an additional year. Third, although the average final sale price exceeded borrowers' own estimates at the time of filing, the majority of the lenders suffered losses. These findings are pertinent to the recent debate over the bankruptcy code on mortgage modification. Finally, the paper also reports circumstances related to the loan, borrower, and lender that make it more or less likely that a certain result will take place.

Keywords: Homeownership, Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy, Foreclosure

JEL Classification: J22, K35, D14

Suggested Citation

Carroll, Sarah W. and Li, Wenli, The Homeownership Experience of Households in Bankruptcy (August 13, 2008). FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 08-14, Available at SSRN: or

Sarah W. Carroll (Contact Author)

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
United States

Wenli Li

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ( email )

Ten Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1574
United States

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