With Area Home Prices at New Lows, Atlanta Bankruptcy May Help Potential Homebuyers
Atlanta home prices have fallen to the lowest level in 13 years thanks to a rush of recent foreclosures and short sales, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The latest housing market data from Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Indices shows that metro Atlanta real estate prices fell for the fourth month in a row this past November, dropping 2.5 percent from the previous month.
As of December 2011, the average sales price of a metro Atlanta house was around $178,000, a 12 percent decline from a year earlier.
While 19 of 20 major cities covered by the indices saw declines, Atlanta had the second-worst index among the group. Only Detroit fared worse.
Real estate experts say the region's high rate of foreclosure is to blame.
Last year, more than 60 percent of home sales in Atlanta involved foreclosed properties. And the problem is expected to get worse before it gets better.
With unemployment still high, wages low, and costs on the rise, many consumers who were previously able to squeak by paycheck-to-paycheck are finally finding themselves unable to juggle the mortgage payments with other bills.
Meanwhile, many banks that had halted their foreclosure processes last year in response to criticism about fraudulent practices such as robo-signing and document fabrication are beginning to handle foreclosure cases once again.
Also known as the "wage earners bankruptcy," Chapter 13 allows consumers to pay off unsecured debts like credit card balances over a period of 3 to 5 years. During this time, important assets such as homes and vehicles are protected from repossession. If payments are made on time, debt remaining after the payment period is up can be discharged for good.
Chapter 7, the most popular form of bankruptcy, doesn't require a payment period but may require some assets to be liquidated in order to cover debt. However, many people who qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy income requirements are able to eliminate debt without giving up their valuables.
On the other end of the spectrum, rock-bottom prices and a limited number of homes for sale make today an ideal buyer's market. If overwhelming debt and mediocre credit is preventing you from owning your own home, bankruptcy may offer yet another solution.
By helping consumers rid themselves of growing debt burdens, bankruptcy can help increase income and allow potential borrowers to start rebuilding credit so it's possible for them to qualify for loans with reasonable interest rates.
Whether you're having difficulty making mortgage payments or qualifying for a mortgage in the first place, speaking with a skilled Atlanta bankruptcy lawyer can provide insight and guidance to help you determine the best course of action.
More Blog Entries:
Atlanta Home Prices Hit 13-Year Low, by Misty Williams, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution