May 2008 Archives

May 23, 2008

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filings on the Rise

An article on Newsweek's website asserts that chapter 7 bankruptcy filings are following an upward trend, with more and more people seeking bankruptcy protection, despite recent changes to the law making it more difficult to file. Readers of this blog will know that I advocate bankruptcy as a way to avoid foreclosure; according to Newsweek, filing bankruptcy to deal with an imminent foreclosure is one of the reasons for the boom:

In some cases struggling homeowners are filing to prevent foreclosure. (A record high 243,353 homes went into foreclosure in April, according to data released on May 14 by RealtyTrac.) Squeezed by rising costs for everyday necessities like gas and groceries and unable to tap into their homes for temporary relief -- declining values have left some people owing more than their homes are worth; it's also more difficult to get home equity lines of credit or loans -- many people have turned to their credit cards "as a last resort," says Robert Lawless, a professor of law at the University of Illinois who follows bankruptcy trends.

While digging the debt hole deeper seems like it might be a good idea in the short term, filing bankruptcy now will help you avoid the costly penalties that credit card companies will saddle you with as your balance goes ever-upward. If you're thinking of filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, be sure to visit LegalConsumer.com, my co-blogger's website, to try out his free means test calculator. The calculator can quickly tell you whether you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy under the changes in the law that went into effect in early 2008.

May 20, 2008

New Foreclosure Area on Nolo.com

istock_000005686837xsmall.jpgAs the credit crisis continues and foreclosures continue to rise, Nolo has gathered the most relevant and helpful articles and tools for anyone facing foreclosure. There, you can find articles by me and my colleagues on everything from reducing the number and amount of mortgages on your home, to tips on how to spot the shady characters who will try and take advantage of you at a most vulnerable moment -- when you're struggling to hang on to your home. And, of course, there are answers to those nagging questions that need to be answered immediately -- like how long you can stay in your home once foreclosure notice has been given.

To find out what the law has to say about these issues and more, check out the brand new Foreclosure area on Nolo.com. Soon we'll be adding an article on foreclosure basics and an FAQ with answers to common foreclosure questions.

May 8, 2008

Tips & Tools: Foreclosure

bankruptcy050808.jpg The subprime mortgage and credit crisis shows no sign of waning anytime soon, and if you're one of the millions being foreclosed on, panic may be quickly setting in. But just because a solution seems unreachable doesn't mean that you can't plan ahead to minimize the possibility of foreclosure or mitigate the damage if you find yourself sliding toward it.

Lately, I've been working with my colleagues at Nolo to produce useful materials that will help anyone in any stage of the foreclosure process -- from those struggling with their new jumbo loan repayments to those with an eviction notice already pasted to their front door. Here are a few of the articles I'd recommend to interested readers:


  • My latest article covers the process of reducing your mortgage obligations to help you avoid foreclosure and stay in your home.

  • Similarly, Ilona Bray gives you a rundown of all the ways you might be able to stay in your home and keep foreclosure at bay, as well as what to do if you discover that foreclosure is inevitable.

  • A cautionary article: Don't Lose Your Home to Foreclosure "Rescue" Scammers. Many unscrupulous people are using the mortgage crisis to prey on those going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. This article gives you the tools to recognize those attempting to defraud you, and how to check up on the legitimate rescuers.

  • What happens when your landlord's rental property is being foreclosed upon? Janet Portman provides the information any renter in this situation will need, including warnings about angry, law-breaking landlords and solutions for tenants who find out their new landlord is the bank.