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Real estate Q&A: Bankruptcy doesn’t stop foreclosure

By Gary M. Singer, Sun Sentinel –

QUESTION: I filed for bankruptcy over two years ago and included my primary and rental home loans in the bankruptcy. Even though the loans are not on my credit report, two recent foreclosures for those properties show up on the report. My finances are back on track, and my credit score is over 700, but I can’t get another home loan. I’ve been told I have to wait three more years until those foreclosure judgments disappear from my record. Is there anything that I can do?

—Gina

ANSWER: Here’s what happened: When you filed for bankruptcy and were relieved of having to pay back the loans, the bankruptcy trustee abandoned the properties and allowed your lenders to finish the foreclosures. That’s standard procedure. When your lenders finally got the foreclosure judgments, the judgments showed up on your credit report much later than your initial bankruptcy.

The key here is that while the bankruptcy relieved you of the debt on your homes, it left you as the owner of the properties with the mortgage liens intact. In order for the banks to get their collateral back, they had to foreclose. The bankruptcy does not automatically transfer a house to the lender, even though it wipes away the responsibility of repaying the mortgage.

Most lenders have underwriting guidelines that require several years to go by after a major negative event such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure. You have two options: Wait out the remaining time, or search for a lender with less stringent underwriting rules that will most likely charge you a higher interest rate.

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