Many people in New York, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Nassau and Suffolk Counties are in danger of losing their homes through foreclosure these days. Bankruptcy may be a good option for many of these people to try to save their homes. There are three different bankruptcy options available to individuals, chapter 7, chapter 13 and chapter 11. Today we will look at when chapter 7 can be used to stop a foreclosure.
NY Foreclosure & Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Once a debtor files bankruptcy the automatic stay goes into effect and prohibits the lender from continuing with the foreclosure. In chapter 7 bankruptcy a critical issue is whether the homeowner has equity in the home. Equity is the difference between the current fair market value of the home and all the mortgage liens on the property. In chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York the debtor is entitled to an exemption (i.e., gets to keep) up to $50,000 of equity in his/her home, or $100,000 if married and the home is jointly owned by debtor and his/her spouse. This is commonly known as a homestead exemption. If the equity is less than this there is no value for the bankruptcy estate to turn to cash to satisfy creditors’ claims. However, if a debtor has significant equity greater than the value of allowed exemptions then the chapter 7 trustee can seek to sell the home. In a sale by the chapter 7 trustee the mortgage(s) would get paid, the debtor(s) would get a check for the amount of their exemption, and the remaining money would go into the bankruptcy estate to be distributed to creditors by the trustee.
For people with mortgage problems and other unsecured debt problems as well, chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a good option if eliminating the other unsecured debt (such as credit card debt or medical bills, etc.) would solve their money problems so they would have enough money to pay the mortgage. However, to keep your home in chapter 7 you need to continue to pay the mortgage as it become due.