January 2017

09 Jan Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1: An Unlikely New Weapon Against Debtors

It has been five years since Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court enacted Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1.  Hailed as a victory for homeowners against greedy mortgage banks, the rule was designed to force banks to certify to the court that the homeowner was current in payments...

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06 Jan Is Your Car Loan Underwater – What Are Your Options?

underwater car loanWould you be surprised to discover that your car is underwater? Not underwater in the sense of being wet, but in a financial sense. You are financially underwater with your loan if the fair market value of your vehicle is substantially less than the debt you owe. According to Edmunds.com, quite a lot of folks are significantly underwater with their loans. In 2016 nearly one-third of all vehicles offered for trade ins at dealerships are worth less than the debt encumbering those vehicles. By comparison, the underwater percentage was less than 14% in 2009.

Why Do Car Loans Get Upside Down and What Does it Mean?

There are several reasons why you may get upside down with your loan. First, the average term of car loans is getting longer - Experian reports that the average loan now lasts between 68 and 72 months. Further, the average loan now amounts to around $30,000. Second, vehicles are what as known as depreciating assets - they lose value every year and with every mile driven. When you do the math, you won’t break even on a $30,000 loan financed over 72 months at a 4% until year 3 or 4 of the loan. As the interest rate goes up, it may be year 5 or even year 6 before your loan balance falls below the vehicle value. If you trade in your underwater vehicle for a replacement (or if you have to replace a damaged or destroyed car) when the loan balance exceeds the fair market value, the replacement lender will reduce the unpaid balance by the wholesale value of the original car and “roll in” the remaining balance into a new loan. You may end up with Mercedes sized payments but a modest Chevrolet in your driveway.
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