Second Mortgage in Charge-Off Status

Second Mortgage in Charge-Off Status
Brad StrohFeb 13, 2008
Key Takeaways:
  • If you default on your second mortgage, the mortgagee can foreclose.
  • Try to work out a forbearance plan.
  • offers additional information for people in default on their second.
What are the ramifications of a second mortgage in charge off status?

My husband is unemployed and we have fallen behind on our first and second mortgage. We have a plan setup that should take care of the first mortgage, but our second mortgage is in charge-off status. My question is would it be okay to let it get charged-off? What are the ramifications of this?

Before addressing the central issues in your question, let us define charge off.

Charge Off

Charge-off (sometimes called write-off) is an accounting term used by creditors when they move a delinquent account from its accounts receivable books to its bad debt ledger. This usually occurs between 180 and 240 days from the date of the last payment. The fact an account is charged-off does not mean the debt may not be collected later. The charge-off date also does not correspond to the statute of limitations on collecting a debt, or the date that an entry on a credit record must be removed. All three dates or deadlines are independent of each other and have different meanings. I explain more about the ramifications of a second mortgage in charge-off status in just a moment.

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A charged-off account does not mean:

  • The debt is canceled
  • The debt is forgiven
  • The creditor forfeits a right to collect the debt

The creditor may move a charged-off account to its own internal collections department, or sell the debt to a third-party collection agency.

Second Mortgage Foreclosure

Home loan lenders have the right to foreclose if you fail to make your payments for any mortgage. The fact a second mortgage is in a junior position to the first mortgage does not prevent the second mortgage lender from foreclosing.

Try to work out some sort of a payment arrangement with your lender for the second mortgage to avoid a foreclosure. The foreclosure process varies from state to state, but generally takes from two to 18 months depending on the terms of your loan and your state of residence. However, a good rule of thumb is the bank can proceed with the foreclosure process if mortgage payments are not received within 150 days. See the Foreclosure Rules resource to learn the specific rules for your state.

If a foreclosure occurs, the second mortgage is paid after the first mortgage is repaid in full. If the sale price is less than the value of the mortgages held against it, then in most states you will owe a deficiency balance. The good news is a deficiency balance (if it exists and if your lenders pursue collections) is an unsecured debt you can enroll in a debt settlement program. However, some states outlaw the collection of mortgage deficiency balances. See the Anti-Deficiency resource to learn the rules for your state.

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Here is the good news: Lenders don’t like to foreclose on mortgages. Foreclosures are costly, so lenders foreclose only as a way of limiting losses on a defaulted loan. If homeowners get behind on payments, lenders will most likely work with them to bring the loan current.

To do so, however, communicate with the lender and be honest about your financial situation. The lender’s willingness to help with current problems will depend heavily on past payment records. If you have made consistent, timely payments and had no serious defaults, the lender will be more receptive than if the person has a record of unexplained late payments. If you are falling behind in payments or who know you are likely to do so soon, contact your lender right away about meeting to discuss alternative payment arrangements.

Loan Workout Plan

An agreement between borrower and lender to prevent the loss of a home is called a loan workout plan. It will have specific deadlines that must be met to avoid foreclosure. Therefore, it must be based on what the borrower really can do to get the loan up to date again. The nature of the plan will depend on the seriousness of the default, prospects for obtaining funds to cure the default, whether the financial problems are short-term or long-term, and the current value of the property.

If the default is caused by a temporary condition likely to end within 60 days, the lender may consider granting temporary indulgence. Those who have suffered a temporary loss of income but can demonstrate that the income has returned to its previous level may be able to structure a repayment plan. This plan requires normal mortgage payments to be made as scheduled along with an additional amount that will end the delinquency in no more than 12 to 24 months. In some cases, the additional amount may be a lump-sum due at a specific date in the future. Repayment plans are probably the most frequently used type of agreement.

Foreclosure, Generally

Foreclosure is a serious situation that has serious repercussions. If you can, you want to avoid a foreclosure as much at all costs. is here to help. We also offer helpful guides, foreclosure FAQs, glossary terms, and other helpful tools to help you keep your home and avoid a bank repossession.

You can find more in depth information about foreclosures on our foreclosure information page. See also Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.