Regardless of the means by which they seek debt relief, many people will observe some effect on their credit rating as they take steps to rebuild financial strength. But Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and debt settlement strategies offer such potent relief to individuals and married couples that this can be merely a speed bump on the road to financial recovery.

For those who, like many Arizona homeowners, have negative equity in real property like a home, investment property or vacation residence, an involuntary foreclosure, loan modification or short sale may be the best way to proceed. A Phoenix debt relief lawyer can help you understand the long-term implications of these options and help you assess which choice meets your unique goals.

A recent study by the Fair Issac Corporation (FICO) took a close look at how mortgage delinquencies impact FICO scores, which are a primary factor in mortgage lending decisions. The study looked at three hypothetical consumers with baseline FICO scores of 680, 720 and 780, and showed an average reduction of about 70 points for borrowers who are 30 days late on mortgage payments.

Not surprisingly, the decrease continues for borrowers who are 90 days late, but the effect is minimal for the borrower who started with the lowest score. However, the most interesting finding was that the FICO score effect was essentially the same for property owners who chose to let the foreclosure process take its course and those who completed a short sale with a deficiency balance (meaning the sale proceeds did not eliminate the amount owed on the original mortgage). Other strategies, such as deed in lieu of foreclosure and debt settlement, had a lesser effect on the credit score.

The study produced similar results when assessing how long it takes for FICO scores to recover. Not surprisingly, it takes considerably longer for a borrower with a higher score to recover from the negative effect of late payments, short sales or foreclosure.

Beyond the limited considerations of hypotheticals, a wide variety of factors play into a proper consideration of whether bankruptcy or another option will best serve an individual’s needs. A consultation with an Arizona bankruptcy attorney can help potential clients make informed choices that target future financial health.

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