A foreclosure may not be the end of a homeowner’s financial problems if the homeowner has multiple loans secured by the home. These additional loans are generally known as junior liens, and they can take the form of second mortgages or home improvement loans. The lenders of these loans are usually behind the original mortgage lender in terms of getting paid when the house sells. This could leave the homeowner personally liable for the junior loans.
If the original lender, the senior lien holder, sells the home in foreclosure, the income from the sale is used to first settle the senior lien holder’s loan. If there are any additional funds left over, they can be applied to any junior loans. The junior lien holders can make a claim on the surplus from the sale of the home, but have to prove the validity of their claims. If the money only partially covers the balance of the loan, the junior lien holder can sue the homeowner for the balance.
This can also be the same outcome in a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. However, in these situations, there is an opportunity for the homeowner to negotiate with all the lien holders in order avoid personal responsibility for a deficiency on all loans. These negotiations should take place before the sale takes place, and all lenders should agree not to seek deficiencies from the homeowner. This may work better if all the loans were provided by the same lender.
Homeowners should note that the junior lienholder who has an interest in the property can also foreclose on the home. If a junior lien holder sells the property, the senior lien holder still has an interest in the property, even if it is transferred to a new owner. Additionally, any surplus from a foreclosure by a junior lien holder does not necessarily go to the senior lien holder, and instead goes to other junior creditors or to the homeowner.
Following foreclosure by a junior lien holder, the original lender can still pursue the balance of the mortgage from the homeowner who took out the loan. The obligation to pay on the loan is not transferred to the new homeowner. However, the new homeowner does not own the property free and clear, and the senior lien holder’s lien remains with the property until the debt is discharged by payment or through bankruptcy.
If there are other creditors seeking to get paid, the homeowner who loses a home to foreclosure and faces the prospect of a deficiency judgement should consider filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy would allow the homeowner to erase all the debt, including junior liens, and start fresh even though it may negatively affect the homeowner’s credit.
Contact an Experience Attorney
If you are going through foreclosure and have multiple loans against the property being foreclosed, call us at Resnick Law, P.C., in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit, Michigan. Our experienced foreclosure attorneys can help you navigate the process and negotiate where possible to try and help you avoid deficiency judgments.
(image courtesy of Nathan Fertig)