Bankruptcy During Foreclosure: Home Preservation Through Chapters 7 and 13
36 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2013 Last revised: 2 Jan 2014
Date Written: October 23, 2013
Filing for bankruptcy is the primary legal mechanism by which homeowners in foreclosure can exert control over ownership of their home, yet little is known about the interplay between bankruptcy chapters, mortgage servicers, state foreclosure laws, and home foreclosure auctions. We analyze 4,280 lower-income homeowners in the United States who were more than 90 days late paying their 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. Two dozen organizations serviced these mortgages and initiated foreclosure between 2003 and 2012. We identify wide variation between mortgage servicers in their likelihood of bringing the property to auction. We also show that when homeowners in foreclosure filed for bankruptcy, foreclosure auctions were 70% less likely. Chapters 7 and 13 both reduce the hazard of auction, but the effect is five times greater for Chapter 13, which contains enhanced tools to preserve homeownership. Bankruptcy’s effects are strongest in states that permit power-of-sale foreclosure or withdraw homeowners’ right-of-redemption at the time of auction.
Keywords: mortgage servicing, displacement, relocation, real estate owned, homeownership, default
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