The Effect of Bankruptcy on Foreclosure

foreclosure assistance for homeownersIf my debts are discharged in bankruptcy, is the foreclosure over? Even if your debts are discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, your foreclosure problems are not over. If you discharge your unsecured debts and you enter into an arrangement to reaffirm the mortgage and make your mortgage payments your problems with the bank foreclosure may be over. In most cases involving a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the personal obligation portion of the mortgage debt is discharged (erased) but the lien portion of the mortgage on your home still exists.

The Mortgage

A mortgage actually involves two separate and distinct documents. The first document is the promissory note which can be simply described as an I Owe You (IOU). The second item is a lien. Liens on real property in the State of New York are referred to as mortgages.

The Promissory Note

The purpose of the promissory note is to lay out the terms of the financial transaction, such as the amount you are borrowing, the interest rate, and the payment arrangements. The promissory note is actually the document that creates the personal financial obligation to the bank.

The lien which is placed on your home acts as a type of collateral to secure your repaying the IOU (personal obligation portion of your debt). The lien gives the bank security in your home. Even if you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy and discharge the personal obligation (IOU portion) of your debt, the lien still exists and the bank, when obtaining the release from the automatic stay from the federal bankruptcy court, can move forward with the foreclosure on your home.

The benefit of the chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge will prevent the bank from obtaining a deficiency judgment against you. A deficiency judgment involves a situation where the bank sells your home for less than is owed and goes after the balance of the funds they are owed.


A discharge in a chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges all of your personal obligations, except those which are designated as non-dischargeable by statute. After you receive a discharge, the automatic stay from the bankruptcy court will eventually be lifted. Once it is lifted, the bank will still be able to move forward with the foreclosure in a New York State Court unless you have made a payment arrangement with the financial institution.

So what can you do? Meet with a skilled foreclosure attorney. Find out what your rights are, your remedies are, and the best way to proceed.homeowner advocates

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