Report shows delinquent mortgages still widespread in Wisconsin

Wisconsin homeowners know it can be tough to make house payments in today's economy. A recent report from the Mortgage Bankers' Association (MBA) shows that nearly 6 percent of the state's homeowners are at least 30 days behind on their mortgages, not counting the homes already in foreclosure. Even though this seems like a high number of homeowners in default on their mortgages, it is still far below the national average of 7.35 percent.

Many homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments are still reeling from job losses or other consequences of the country's recent recession. They might also be dealing with high credit card debt, loan payments, facing repossession of their vehicles or trying to stay current on medical bills. The same people falling behind on house payments could benefit from the protections offered by a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.

How does bankruptcy help?

In the short term, bankruptcy stops foreclosure proceedings. The bank is not allowed to foreclose on a mortgage or attempt to collect payments until given permission by the court. This is not to say that all bankruptcy proceedings will prevent foreclosure, but it does generally buy the homeowner some time to get current with the payments.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is sometimes the best option for borrowers who wish to keep their homes. This is because it is possible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans to be structured in such a way as to build any past due amounts into an extended repayment plan that will consolidate debt into one monthly payment for a period of three to five years.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is different in that it eliminates all unsecured debt. Since mortgages are secured debt, borrowers still owe mortgage payments, but they are easier to make due to the dismissal of the unsecured debts.

What happens after a bankruptcy filing?

Secured debt is paid first, and any unsecured debt like back taxes, medical bills, and credit cards are paid last. If timely payments are made in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy throughout the entirety of the repayment plan, filers are likely to be able to keep their homes.

It is important to remember that bankruptcy does have negative consequences as well, and it shouldn't be taken lightly. It has a detrimental effect on credit scores, and stays on a person's credit report for up to 10 years. Even so, it is possible to qualify for a mortgage or car loan after a bankruptcy much earlier than that 10-year deadline (sometimes as little as only two or three years later), and it is still the best option for many people.

Financial difficulties can be stressful and time consuming, but an experienced bankruptcy attorney can provide guidance and assist with determining the best legal options for managing your debt and working toward a fresh financial start.