• Sinking Incomes No Help for Underwater Homeowners

    In discussing the thousands of Illinois homeowners needing foreclosure help throughout the week, we concluded on Wednesday by noting the benefits of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. However, we noted that individuals need to have the income necessary to make Chapter 13 repayment plans work. Many recent reports suggest that households throughout Illinois are struggling to keep up with their bills after seeing declines in their incomes.

    On September 20, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Census Bureau estimated that the median household income of Chicagoans was $43,628 in 2011. This figure was nearly $7,000 less than the national figure of $50,502. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 2011 median household income was “$4,000 less than in 2009 and part of a steady decline over the past three years.”

    While these realities make it difficult for many homeowners to have the income necessary to enter a Chapter 13 repayment plan, the good news is that individuals who are underwater on their mortgages and have lower incomes may still be able to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy . Unlike Chapter 13, individuals filing Chapter 7 will not be able to save their homes. However, they can use Chapter 7 to walk away from the house owing nothing. Also, individuals filing Chapter 7 will be able to live rent-free for a few months and discharge most or all of their unsecured debt.

    If you are uncertain whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the best option for you and your family, our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help when you fill out the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Illinois AG Calls Attention to Foreclosure Assistance Programs

    This astonishing interactive map from WNYC uses data from real estate information company RealtyTrac to display foreclosure rates by county across the United States. You can press play to see how the foreclosure rate increased between January 2007 and July 2012, with the darker colored dots signifying higher rates of foreclosure. If you zoom in on Illinois, you can see a significant increase in the number of dots statewide during the five years, but you will also notice that the colors in the Chicagoland area are the darkest for nearly every single period.

    On October 4, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times published an op-ed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan entitled, “How to find foreclosure help .” “As Illinois attorney general, tens of thousands of Illinois borrowers have reached out to my office for help navigating the bewildering and frustrating experience of trying to save their homes,” Madigan wrote. “Sadly, thousands more never call for help.”

    Noting that “legitimate help won’t come looking for you,” Madigan said homeowners in foreclosure or trying to prevent it should be aware of the following options:

    • Housing counseling agencies certified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – “Housing counselors can help you understand your options and work with you and your bank to achieve the best outcome,” Madigan wrote.
    • Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – This federal program offers loan modifications and other forms of assistance to homeowners who are employed and behind on their payments.
    • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) – Another federal program, which helps homeowners refinance into a new loan with more affordable payments if they are current on payments but unable to secure traditional refinancing because they are “underwater.”
    • Illinois Hardest Hit Fund – A program providing payment assistance to homeowners who lost their jobs and are behind on their payments.

    Foreclosures remain a problem for thousands of homeowners throughout Illinois, and we will continue to discuss this issue throughout the week. If you are facing foreclosure, you should know that another option is filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . You could delay the process by filing Chapter 7 , or a Chapter 13 repayment plan may even be able to help you save your house. Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help when you complete the form on this page or contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers