Foreclosure Fight? Bankruptcy Is Best, Says the Dean

BY Paul Solman  December 30, 2010 at 11:45 AM EDT

Name: Laura Hanson

Question: Like so many others, I have an unaffordable mortgage getting worse every day. Eventually I will have to foreclose or sell. Is there only help for people who are already foreclosing or is it possible to get better help than the sham modification loans offered to those of us not yet in foreclosure? Also, where does one go for help in California, at least for help in finding an appropriate private lawyer? It’s my family home and I live in fear of losing it. But without some kind of adjustment, I will lose it. Then the lenders will sell it, for less, to someone new. Where can I go for advice and help? Thank you very, very much.

Paul Solman: We sent this email to the so-called “dean of the bankruptcy bar,” North Carolina lawyer Max Gardner, whom we’ve interviewed in the past and who’s answered viewer questions. Here’s his response to your question, Ms. Hanson:

O. Max Gardner III:

I get more relief in bankruptcy (chapter 13) with legal leverage than anything you can get under HAMP or any type of non-bankruptcy Loss Mitigation program. And, just to clarify, you do not have to be in default to qualify for HAMP (unless the Pooling and Servicing Agreement prohibits the servicer from any voluntary mod for a non-defaulted borrower).

Where is this homeowner located in California? She can go to theBankruptcy Boot Camp web page and pull down a list of all of our grads per state. [These graduates have completed intensive training in the Bankruptcy Litigation Model and receive ongoing support from Max and fellow graduates.]