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Grayslake Real Estate And Bankruptcy Law Blog

What can bankruptcy’s automatic stay protect you against?

When your finances begin to spiral out of control, you may find that it interferes with numerous parts of your life. Depending on how far in debt you are, you may be losing some of your professional earnings to wage garnishment. You may also find yourself on the receiving end of repeated phone calls from creditors.

While these and other possible repercussions associated with falling behind on your bills may prove frustrating, you may be able to seek temporary relief by filing for bankruptcy. Once you begin your bankruptcy case, something called the automatic stay takes effect. During this automatic stay period, certain creditors may no longer lawfully come after you. Just what types of protections does bankruptcy’s automatic stay allow?

Tips for selling a home in a timely manner

The average home stays on the market for 68 days before it is sold. However, there are steps that Illinois sellers and others can take in an effort to get their homes off of the market as quickly as possible. For example, it may be a good idea to consider selling to investors who purchase homes in their current condition. This may allow a homeowner to sell without having to spend time or money on repairs. Homeowners may also be able to avoid paying an agent to help with the transaction.

Those who are planning on upgrading their homes before putting them on the market should focus their efforts in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. These are the spaces that buyers tend to be the most interested in when evaluating a property. Sellers are encouraged to get rid of as much clutter as possible inside the home. Doing so makes it easier for potential buyers to imagine how they would use a living room or kitchen.

Brunner test used for discharging student loans

Collectively, current and former students in Illinois and across the country are carrying student debt of $1.59 trillion. Many of these borrowers are struggling to stay current with their repayment obligations, and some are considering bankruptcy as a way out. Bankruptcy may successfully discharge many different types of debt, but student loans are among the most difficult to discharge.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy may allow for the discharge of student debts, but the borrower has a hard road to travel. The person must pass the means test; this compares the income of the bankruptcy filer, also referred to as the petitioner, to the median income for comparable households in the relevant state. After passing the means test, the petitioner will have to demonstrate that he or she will be unable to pay off the student loan debt or that paying it back would be an undue hardship.

Mistakes to avoid during the home purchase process

Home buyers may assume that they are going to be able to move into their homes soon after their offers have been accepted. However, the transaction is not official until the closing date. Therefore, it is important that buyers don't make mistakes that could result in losing a mortgage or otherwise jeopardizing their chances of getting their dream home. Ideally, those who are about to purchase a home in Illinois or anywhere else will not open a new credit card account.

They should also refrain from getting a car loan or adding any other debt to their credit report. Cosigning for a loan is generally not a good idea prior to purchasing a home. This is because it will increase a buyer's debt-to-income (DTI) ratio even if that person is not the primary borrower. Buyers who currently have debt should not refinance their loans or consolidate existing balances.

How to sell a home during the holiday season

Illinois homeowners may know that it is harder to sell their homes during the late fall and winter months. However, there are strategies that they can use to increase their chances of accomplishing this goal. One key to selling a home during the holidays is to be comfortable with a compressed timeline. Banks, title companies and other parties may have limited hours during the holiday season. Real estate agents may also have personal obligations to attend to during this period.

Therefore, it is important to remain flexible to ensure that home tours, inspections and other important tasks can be completed in a timely manner. The home itself should be staged to seem as warm and inviting as possible despite the cold temperatures and lack of sunlight. It is important to ensure that driveways, sidewalks and other outdoor surfaces are free of snow and ice.

5 issues that can delay a real estate closing

Selling a home is usually an exciting experience, but if you are a first-time seller, you may find the process confusing, even frustrating at times.

You keep glancing at the proposed closing date on your calendar, but that may very well change. Here are five issues that could delay the closing.

An overview of the short sale process

In a short sale, a home is sold for less than what a homeowner owes on the mortgage. Banks may allow a short sale because it costs less than a foreclosure and can take less time to complete compared to a foreclosure. Sellers may prefer a short sale over a foreclosure because it does less damage to their credit score. Illinois homeowners who ask to go through the short sale process generally lack the financial resources to stay current on their mortgages.

Those interested in a short sale may also believe that their financial situation is not going to improve in the near future. Homeowners will first need to seek approval for a short sale from their lenders. This is generally done by submitting paperwork explaining the reason for making such a request and why it makes sense for all parties. The lender will then have to approve any offer made by a buyer before the transaction can close.

What to do when debt collectors call

Some Illinois consumers are likely among the one-third of all adults in the United States whose debt went to collections in 2016. In 2017, 30 million people in the U.S. interacted with a debt collector. According to the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau, most people who get into debt do so because of such unexpected hardships as divorce or job loss.

People should be aware that they have certain rights in dealing with debt collectors. For example, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act restricts how often a debt collector can call a person and when. People should also make sure the debt collection company is legitimate. They should get the name of the company and look online to see if there have been complaints about it. They can also ask for verification of the debt. They should get a copy of the original creditor's contract and ask the debt collector to send copies of it as well. If the company cannot provide them, they must stop contact.

Improving the chances of selling a home during the winter

Illinois homeowners who are interested in selling residential real estate during the fall and winter months may need to make a bit of extra effort to sell their home in the off-season. Tough weather and shorter days can sometimes discourage buyers from getting out and looking at properties. However, there are some things that homeowners can do to add more appeal to their home and make it more likely that they will sell during these colder months.

One step that homeowners can take is to upgrade the photos of their home. Before potential home buyers decide to get out and travel in the cold weather, they are likely to look online first. Professional photos that show the home's landscape during warmer seasons can add a certain level of appeal and get home buyers motivated to look at homes on cold days.

How to stop creditor harassment

If you are currently struggling with credit card debt, mortgage payments, medical expenses, student loans and other bills, you are certainly not alone. Approximately two million people suffer from overwhelming medical bills alone in the United States. As a result of this debt, many people are constant victims of creditor harassment. Whether you receive annoying phone calls throughout the day, in the evenings and throughout the weekend or you are getting threats from credit collectors, you may be scared to answer your phone. Fortunately, there are ways to stop this creditor harassment and reclaim your privacy. 

Filing for bankruptcy is one way to stop creditors from calling. Once you submit your bankruptcy paperwork, an automatic stay is put in place. During an automatic stay, all of the creditors listed on your paperwork are notified and are no longer able to do the following:

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