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Bankruptcy: The Bankruptcy Blog
The Latest on the Foreclosure Crisis
Since the housing boom of the early 2000s, the housing picture in the U.S. has changed dramatically, as anyone struggling to make mortgage payments each month already knows. But exactly what is the state of mortgages and foreclosures right now in the country? Here?s a look at some indicators that say a lot.
Lowest Homeownership Rate In More than a Decade
Recent data released by the Census Bureau (and reported at Credit.com) show that home ownership in the United States has dipped to its lowest level since 1998:
- In the fourth quarter of 2010, 66.5 percent of Americans reported owning their own home.
- In 2009, 67.2 percent of the nation claimed homeowner status; the drop reflects the continued effects of the recession on income and ability to make mortgage payments.
- At its peak in 2004, as many as 69.2 percent of Americans reported owning a home.
Just as subprime loans were found to disproportionately affect non-white home buyers, it seems that foreclosure rates are currently higher among that segment of the population: in 2007, the number of African Americans that owned a home was reported at 48 percent; a year later, the number had already fallen to 44.8 percent. Similarly, among Hispanic families, 50 percent reported homeownership in 2007, but only 46.8 percent did in the last quarter of 2010.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of these numbers is their apparent explanation: while the first wave of foreclosures resulted largely from the resetting of subprime loans, this wave seems to be more a result of long-term job loss hindering homeowners? ability to make their (otherwise affordable) mortgage payments.
Homeowners on their Own to Fight Foreclosure?
In a related story, The New York Times recently reported that, more and more, Americans are having to fight the foreclosure of their homes without legal representation or outside help. According to the article, areas of the country with high foreclosure rates are holding how-to workshops for individuals and couples interested in contesting foreclosure in the courts.
New reports apparently show that foreclosure is shifting its face in the court system: what was once a process that involved mostly paperwork now, it seems, involves more and more people actually visiting the court to make their case for keeping their homes.
How Can I Fight Foreclosure?
Whether you?re struggling from job loss, job reduction or an unaffordable mortgage loan, you may be able to fight foreclosure with the help of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. Thanks to its three- to five-year repayment plan, Chapter 13 helps many homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments by rearranging the amount and type of debt they?re responsible for paying each month.
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