Sometimes people just allow a foreclosure to happen when they have exhausted all resources. Huge loans and reset mortgages have often led to foreclosures nationwide. Prince William County was one of the hardest hit areas in Virginia. Now the Washington Post tells us more bad news:
After the bank foreclosed on Fernando Palacios’s Gainesville home in March, he thought he was done with what he described as the most stressful financial situation of his life.
The bank sold the home for far less than Palacios owed on it, as often happens with foreclosures. What Palacios did not see coming was the letter from his lender demanding that he pay the shortfall: $148,064.02. “I really thought I was through with this house,” said Palacios, who fell behind on payments when the economy soured and his cleaning business stumbled.
Over the past year, lenders have become much more aggressive in trying to recoup money lost in foreclosures and other distressed sales, creating more grief for people who thought their real estate headaches were far behind.
In many localities — including Virginia, Maryland and the District — lenders have the right to pursue borrowers whose homes have sold at a loss to collect the difference between what the property sold for and what the borrower owed on it, also called a deficiency.
Before the housing bust, when the volume of foreclosures was relatively low, lenders seldom bothered to chase after deficiencies because borrowers had few remaining assets to claim and doing so involved hassles and costs. But with foreclosures soaring, lenders are more determined to get their money back, especially if they suspect borrowers are skipping out on loan they could afford, an increasingly common practice in areas where home values have tanked.
Palacios said he was committed to staying in his house, which he bought in 2005. He sunk $20,000 into improving it and hoped to raise his children there. But his lender refused to modify his loan, he said. To avoid personal liability for the deficiency, Palacios is filing for bankruptcy protection, as many people do who are in similar situations, said Nancy Ryan, his bankruptcy attorney.
It makes sense that if people could afford to pay their mortgage, they just would. Isn’t this practice going to greatly increase the number of bankruptcies in the area? That hurts all the other creditors.