Category Archives: Real estate

Debtors get the benefit of rising real estate values..or do they?

When you own a home, file a bankruptcy case, and then watch real estate prices rise, who gets the benefit of the new-found value in the property? Traditionally, the rule has been the debtor benefits and gets to keep all the new equity that might accumulate after the date of filing, with the trustee and […]

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Using Zillow in bankruptcy court still a standoff

Since writing in the spring of 2013 that use of the Zillow.com real estate information service was starting to gain some traction in the nation’s bankruptcy courts, only three new opinions mentioning the term “Zillow” have been issued, all in August of 2013. First, some background: back in 2010, Melvin Hoffman, the bankruptcy judge for […]

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Big tax bills for short sellers? Bankruptcy could come to the rescue

It’s the middle of January 2014, and there still has been no movement by Congress in Washington to re-enact the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Act, which expired at the end of 2013. That’s bad news for people looking to get out of real estate by a short sale (and for people being forced out of it […]

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Whither short sales in 2014?

What’s going to happen with short sales in Massachusetts and New Hampshire come 2014? It’s more than just another end-of-the-year speculation article: there seems to be some genuine disagreement as to whether the short sale will be a viable bail-out option for underwater real estate owners in the near future. Maryann Little, who offers a […]

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Clarification on property value disputes in Massachusetts bankruptcy court

Disputes over real estate values are becoming a hot topic in bankruptcy court again, after years of dormancy due to the recession. A recent Massachusetts case decided by bankruptcy judge Melvin Hoffman in the Worcester division of the court gives a behind-the scenes look at some of the problems that crop up when debtors and […]

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Loans stripped in Chapter 13 may not be means test deduction in Massachusetts

Bankruptcy debtors who are looking at Chapter 13 as a way to get rid of an unwanted second (or third) mortgage may have an additional obstacle to overcome if their case lands in Judge Melvin Hoffman’s courtroom. In an opinion released in the Garrepy case (November 6, 2013), Judge Hoffman said that if the married […]

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Whoops! “I filed bankruptcy, but forgot there was a lien on my house!”

What happens if you file a bankruptcy case, then years later you go to sell or refinance your house and discover there is a lien from one of the creditors still on it? Well, it may be possible to reopen the case and file a motion to have the lien removed. This motion would be […]

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Zillow printouts start to gain acceptance in bankruptcy courts

Back in 2010, Massachusetts bankruptcy court judge Melvin Hoffman went out on a limb and trashed the use of Zillow.com printouts as an improper way to value real estate in a bankruptcy case. At the time, Hoffman’s opinion in the Darosa case was the only published comment from a bankruptcy judge in the United States […]

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Massachusetts debtor nearly loses house in “simple” bankruptcy

An Andover woman nearly lost her $600,000 home when she filed a routine consumer bankruptcy case recently — and her hair-raising adventure highlights one of the biggest traps out there for Massachusetts bankruptcy attorneys. The debtor in the Welch case owned a house worth $608K with a mortgage of $314K on it. She had filed […]

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Bankruptcy court litigation favors contractors over homeowners

If you hire a contractor to remodel your house, and the workers show up on expensive Harley-Davidson motorcycles, that’s a good sign that the company is solvent enough to finish the job, right? Wrong. And it led to a long bout of ultimately losing litigation when the contractors filed for personal bankruptcy. Massachusetts chief bankruptcy […]

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