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I’m Three Years Behind on Property Taxes. – Darin

“Dear Steve,

A partner and I just dissolved a small business which had seriously declining revenue over the past few years. I owe 48k in credit card debt, 78k on a mortgage for a house that needs a ton of work, and 8k on a car. I still have my job which gives me 50K, but that’s not enough to meet minimum cc payments together with all else, in fact I’ve missed two months on credit card payments already. I’ve been paying the mortgage and insurance, but I’m 3 years behind on the property taxes and have received an advanced foreclosure notice. I realize I’m probably going to have to file bankruptcy (not sure if I should do 7 or try to do 13 to keep the house.) My mortgage/taxes/insurance add up to about 1200/mo., and I’m telling you the house is in serious need of repair (heating system, wiring, plumbing) but it’s in the country (I value that) and would be paid off in 11 years (I’m 46).

I’m wondering if I should try and save the house by repaying the property taxes in a chapter 13 plan, or if I should just let them foreclose. I tried auctioning the house for what I owe on it, but no takers.

Thanks for your input, much appreciated.

Darin”

Dear Darin,

Interesting situation.

If the house is sold for taxes you would lose title to the property but still owe the mortgage. Not a great situation to be in.

You obviously enjoy the location of this house in the country but I am not convinced that you feel this is the “must have” house for you.

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Let’s say you fall on the sword and go bankrupt. It would be a shame to waste that fresh start opportunity and not clear all the debt you have hanging over your head so you can get a truly fresh start.

Sure, if you include the house now, give it back to the bank and do a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to discharge all the debt, you won’t have that house anymore. But that does not mean you won’t have another house in the country in the future.

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Besides, I see this house as a continued financial anchor around your neck when you can least afford it. Things like new wiring, plumbing, heating, etc are damn expensive.

But this is just my opinion after living through these issue and watching many others struggle. My vote, go for the whole fresh start and reboot your entire financial life.

Please update me on your progress by

P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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