Buy a beach house when going bankrupt

Source: Ann Woolner, Bloomberg News

Say an absentee landlord owns the house next to yours. Neither of you keep up your mortgage payments. If you both declare bankruptcy, chances are better that he would keep his place than you yours. However beloved your home or settled your family is in the neighborhood, you can't force your mortgage holder to change its terms to escape foreclosure. The landlord can. Bankruptcy law favors the landlord over the homeowner when it comes to modifying mortgages. It's easier to hold onto a second home at the beach -- and a boat to go with it -- than your home sweet home. Backward? Absolutely. A speculator with slum properties all over the city, who owns a place in Manhattan and a house at the Hamptons, gets better treatment under bankruptcy law than a salaried worker's family with only one, modest bungalow.

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