Deficiency judgments are still being entered in Illinois. Two more clients had judgments of around $50,000.00 each entered in the last two weeks. Oddly, the mainstream media has ignored this, probably because it is a confusing topic.
Before 2013, your chances of having a deficiency judgment entered were slim to none. Half way through 2013, we started to see deficiency judgments entered frequently. My unofficial, unscientific estimate is that there is about a 50% chance of having a deficiency judgment entered against you in an Illinois foreclosure now.
What happens after the deficiency judgment is entered?
In one case, the lender sent a letter asking for payment of about 5% of the judgment amount for a full release. This was a tremendous deal and the client just paid it. I hope that we see a lot of these settlement offers. In several cases, the client has heard nothing from the lender. This does not mean the judgment will just go away.
If a client does not settle, we have to assume that the lenders will place the judgment with a collection attorney and that the client will receive a “citation to discover.” This is served by the sheriff and the client has to go to court to tell what his/her income is and what assets the client owns. The purpose of this is so that the creditor can garnish the wages or take non-exempt assets from the client to pay the judgment So far, I have not had this happen to any client after a deficiency judgment was entered, but that does NOT mean it won’t happen. A judgment is good for 7 years, so time is on the lender’s side.
Can I be arrested due to the deficiency judgment?
No, debtor’s prison, popular in merry olde England, doesn’t exist here. Charles Dickens Dad spent a long time in Marshalsea debtor’s prison, which was the basis for Little Dorrit, a great book/movie. You will not be arrested. The only way that could happen is if you don’t show up to court after you were served a “citation to discover.” The judge has the authority to issue a warrant for your arrest if you are a no-show, so be sure to appear in court.
Will bankruptcy get rid of a deficiency judgment?
Yes, in fact, most clients have filed for chapter 7 to eliminate the deficiency judgment. This knocks out the judgment altogether. The filing fee in a chapter 7 is $306 and attorney’s fees are about $1000.00 so this is a very cost-effective way to solve the problem. If the client has a high income or the assets are over the exemption amount ($4,000.00 of non-IRA assets like checking/savings is exempt, $2400 for a car is exempt) then they have to file a chapter 13, which is more expensive and requires the client to make payments back to the lender over a period of either 3 or 5 years. If payments are completed in a chapter 13, then the judgment is vaporized. Filing a chapter 13 after a deficiency judgment is more involved and expensive than a chapter 7, but it stops collection efforts by the lender and it is the last defense if chapter 7 or a settlement are not possible.
Will I still get a 1099 if a deficiency is entered?
No, you won’t get a 1099. If the lender gets a deficiency judgment, there will be no 1099 (for the difference between the value of the property and what was owed the lender). Note: There WILL be a 1099 if you settle the judgment for less than the face amount without filing bankruptcy.
Will the deficiency judgment hurt my credit?
Yes. Like any other judgment, it will drag down your credit score until it is removed by bankruptcy, payment or settlement.