Submitted by Jen Jones on Thu, 09/03/2009 - 11:43am
The economy is so grim right now it's hard to see the silver lining, but the good news about markets is that they rarely stand still forever. Even now, economists are slowly and cautiously becoming more optimistic about the situation, and consumers are gradually gaining back confidence. The housing market, for example, posted a quarterly rise in prices for the first time in three years, which may indicate a stirring of recovery. Still, there are a lot of homes out there not worth half what they were recently, and new construction has ground to a halt for the time being. Is there a silver lining in this one for you?
Well, there may be if you are not a homeowner and not looking to become one immediately. With so many properties sitting empty while the market waits for buyers to return, people who are not homeowners can enjoy a renter's market. Suddenly there are many options for housing--nicer places at must lower prices. In some areas of the country, it is actually cheaper to rent than to buy at the moment.
If you are considering or already preparing to file for bankruptcy protection, you may be worried about your ability to rent a home, since so many landlord applications now require a credit check and/or ask about past bankruptcies. Don't let such questions dissuade you from pursuing a rental you really like. Because this is a renter's market, landlords may soften some of these requirements. Most landlords will be more concerned with your payment history with past landlords than whatever happened with your credit cards. If you have a good history with someone, ask him if you can use his name for a reference and offer to provide it for the new landlord when you apply. Other times you may be able to bargain with the landlord by offering to pay a slightly larger security deposit or providing other assurances of payment. Remember that as much as you need a place to live, landlords need tenants to make money from their real estate investmentsâ€•or in this market, just to minimize losses!
Home ownership has some real advantages, and many people feel that it's a waste of money to pay rent that will never translate to equity. However, home ownership comes with its own host of troubles, and renting can be a good solution, even if just in the short term. Home ownership is a big step, and you may want to allow yourself some breathing room (and an opportunity to rebuild your credit) before taking the plunge. If so, you might as well take advantage of a renter's market!
If you already own a home, but are having trouble with the monthly payments, bankruptcy is a great option to get caught up on the missed payments. Unfortunately, some people wait until it's too late to take advantage of these protections, and by the time they accept that bankruptcy is their best option, it may be too late for bankruptcy to help. That's why it's important to contact a bankruptcy attorney early in the process, before your finances are beyond repair. If you have conceded that it not financially feasible to keep your home, bankruptcy acts as a shelter from the after effects of a foreclosure, such as tax liability and deficiency judgments. Further, if foreclosure is imminent, a bankruptcy will stop the foreclosure from proceeding, even if you intend to surrender the property in the foreclosure. This strategy can buy your family some time to transition to a new living arrangement.
These are strange days for homeowners and those considering home ownership. If you have doubts about your future financial viability, it may be best to wait out the recession before plunging into the real estate market. If your income is already stretched to the max by debt payments, consider speaking with a bankruptcy attorney. A properly planned bankruptcy can put you in the best possible position to rebuild your damaged credit and pursue home ownership in the future.
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