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Foreclosure vs. Bankruptcy

By January 28, 2020February 20th, 2020Bankruptcy Law, Understanding Bankruptcy

While foreclosure and bankruptcy are familiar terms to most, the difference between the two is often difficult to determine, because one can often lead to another within the process of working with the bank. Filing bankruptcy has the option of giving or surrendering the property back to the bank. When the bank takes the home from you, that is forclosure. 

The main difference between bankruptcy and foreclosure is whether or not the person will owe money to the bank after the process is complete. Within the process of filing bankruptcy, forclosure is likely to happen in order for the title to be cleared and for the bank to sell the house. In this case, the homeowner no longer owes the bank anything. If a foreclosure is forced on the homeowner, they can end up owing the difference in the mortgage and the price of the home in a foreclosure sale. 

Uderstanding the differences between bankruptcy and foreclosure and the process of each, what happens when you decide to go with one over the other and what it looks like when bankruptcy leads to foreclosure and temporary and lasting impacts on your financial life and credit score can be beneficial moving forward. 

What does everything mean?

Different states have different laws, but the concept of bankruptcy is similar across the board in the context of a mortgage. A mortgage is a loan from a bank to help in the financing of a home. When you sign a mortgage agreement, you agree to pay off the loan you took out plus interest. The home is called “collateral” within the agreement. You sign a statement saying the bank can take the home from you if you do not meet the terms of the agreement. This where the term collateral is enforced. 

The largest term in a mortgage agreement is making the required monthly payments to the bank. Monthly payments consist of a certain amount and include interest.  If payments are not met, the bank will foreclose on your home and become the new owners of the property. Falling behind on the monthly payments leads to potentially having to declare bankruptcy and makes the bank the new owner of your home

Filing for bankruptcy stops all collectors from collection lawsuits or forced foreclosure on your home. You do have the option to sell your house back to the bank in order to pay off debts.  Turning your home over to the bank voluntarily after filing for bankruptcy is considered “surrendering” your home.

What happens after?

When you file bankruptcy and choose to surrender your home to the bank, foreclosure still takes place. Your things will be sold in an auction in order to cover the loan you took out to cover the collateral. The difference in foreclosure and surrendering is that after you have surrendered the home to the bank, you are done and no longer owe the loan payment. In a foreclosure, the house is sold and if the price it is sold for is deemed acceptable, you do not owe anything else. If the payment is not deemed acceptable, you will be required to pay the difference in can be charged in the form of a lawsuit. 

Bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for 10 years, but bankruptcies don’t have a separate section on the reports. Filing and completing a bankruptcy claim can take your credit score down 130-240 points. Foreclosure can stay on your report for seven years. Lenders take foreclosure records and these reports very seriously. Foreclosure can drop your credit score down 85-160 points. Missed payments can also drop your credit score 75 points.


Choosing to fight foreclosure or file bankruptcy is up to you, the individual. Each situation is different and has many moving parts that are up to the person to decide what to do. Whatever you decide, make sure you have a reliable and trusted bankruptcy lawyer that can help you make the most informed decision possible in the circumstance and provide you the best outcome. For more information, check out the National Bankruptcy Forum website.

DISCLAIMER: The above blog post is just advice, and you will be better served to call David S. Clark with your bankruptcy questions. This blog contains helpful tips and advice, but is not professional legal advice, and shouldn’t treated as such.