Are Cramdowns the Answer to Underwater Properties?

The rising number of home repossessions could encourage Congress to pass cramdown legislation, something lenders fought vigorously and prevailed against when bankruptcy laws were reformed.

But the cramdown concept has been working successfully in Chapter 12 of the bankruptcy code, which affects farmland.

Cramdowns, or more properly “bifurcation,” divide the value of the debt between that which reflects the current appraised value of the property and that which is now unsecured because the underlying value has declined. The borrower is required to pay the secured portion of the loan and the remainder is treated as unsecured debt – and generally forgiven.

Economists for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland wrote in a research paper that is getting a lot of attention that the negative effect of cramdowns in agricultural lending has been minor. Cramdowns succeed in keeping farmers on their properties and banks get what they would have gotten if they had foreclosed.

Source: Universal Syndicate: Lew Sichelman (09/19/2010)

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