The Chapter 13 Alternative: A Legislative Solution to Undersecured Home Mortgages

The Honorable Samuel L. Bufford*

The Great Recession that began in approximately 2008 brought severe financial difficulties to a large number of homeowners in the United States. With a rise in the unemployment rate from 4.6% to 10%,many lost their jobs and their ability to make their home payments. At the same time, with an average 30.3% reduction in housing values (which in some places has approached nearly 60%), many homes are now worth substantially less than the debt owed on mortgages secured by the homes. Some 5 million homeowners are at least two months behind in their mortgage payments, and RealtyTrac predicts that some 1.2 million homes will be foreclosed on in 2011. The housing crisis continues to get worse, not better.

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*  Judge Bufford served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in Los Angeles for twenty-five years until his retirement in 2010. He is now a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University.