Should I Reaffirm My Mortgage Debt After Bankruptcy? Should I Reaffirm My Mortgage Debt After Bankruptcy? | Equifax Finance Blog

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Should I Reaffirm My Mortgage Debt After Bankruptcy?

Written by Camille Puschautz on August 8, 2014 in Real Estate  |   26 comments

If you’ve found yourself in financial difficulty, you may be considering bankruptcy, which allows you to settle with your creditors in court. In a bankruptcy, you may be able reorganize your debts to make your payments more manageable—or even eliminate your debts completely. While a…

should-i-reaffirm-my-mortgage-debt-after-bankruptcyIf you’ve found yourself in financial difficulty, you may be considering bankruptcy, which allows you to settle with your creditors in court. In a bankruptcy, you may be able reorganize your debts to make your payments more manageable—or even eliminate your debts completely.

While a bankruptcy can help you get rid of your debt in general, you may want to recommit to the terms of your mortgage if you can afford to pay it and you want to keep the home. The promise to repay a mortgage after bankruptcy is known as reaffirming your mortgage debt, and whether you want to take this step depends on your circumstances and the type of bankruptcy for which you have filed.

What does it mean to reaffirm your mortgage debt after bankruptcy?

A reaffirmation agreement is a legal contract that states your promise to repay all or a portion of a debt from which you might have otherwise been released in a bankruptcy case. Reaffirming your mortgage debt means recommitting to the terms of the loan and promising to pay it. However, if you default or fail to pay the mortgage, you could still be subject to foreclosure.

“Bankruptcy has given you the right to discharge a debt and no longer have to repay it,” says Sam Tamkin, a Chicago-based real estate attorney, “If you are reaffirming that debt, you are agreeing to repay it.”

People usually opt for bankruptcy because they cannot afford to meet their financial obligations. If that’s the case for you, reaffirming a mortgage debt might undo the positive aspects of the bankruptcy, Tamkin cautions.

Why reaffirm your mortgage debt?

If you are current on your loan payments and able to meet future payments, reaffirming informs the lender that you intend to pay the mortgage. This allows you to keep your home during bankruptcy as long as you abide by the terms of the reaffirmation agreement and make the payments.

Reaffirming your mortgage ensures communication between you, the bank, and the credit reporting agencies, says Jennifer Brown of Fifth Third Bank.

“When you reaffirm, it’s going to alert the credit bureaus that you’re going through a bankruptcy so it looks like you’re paying your mortgage and shows that you have a history of making payments,” Brown explains.

Some lenders require borrowers to reaffirm their mortgage in order to have future payments recorded on their credit report.

“In the lending world, we want to see it’s been reported to the credit bureaus,” Brown says.

Those who do not reaffirm their mortgage debt but who still continue to make payments may find that their payments do not show up on their credit report. “If you don’t notify the lenders that you want to reaffirm, [those lenders] won’t alert the credit bureaus that you’ve been making payments on time,” Brown says.

Reaffirmation may also give you an opportunity to negotiate new terms with your lender in order to reduce your payments, your interest rate, or the total amount you owe.

How do you know whether or not you should reaffirm?

Each situation differs based on your payment history and your ability to pay in the future. If you are able to keep your mortgage debt, reaffirming may help ensure that the mortgage lender will report your payment activity to the credit reporting bureaus.

(Read more: What to Know When Filing for Bankruptcy)

On the other hand, if financial difficulties prevent you from making this commitment and you want to be released from your mortgage in bankruptcy, you should not sign a reaffirmation agreement. Reaffirmation leaves you personally liable for the debt, and you can’t walk away from it after bankruptcy.

“If the lender is foreclosing on your property, there is no need to reaffirm because the lender is going to take the property,” Tamkin says. Additionally, if you are delinquent on your payments, your mortgage lender simply may not allow you to reaffirm your mortgage debt.

“[Borrowers] should work with their bankruptcy attorney and the lenders to see what their goals are and decide whether they need to, want to, or should reaffirm any debt,” Tamkin says.

Because bankruptcy remains on your credit report for 10 years after the filing date, it’s important to maintain other aspects of your credit. As you move on from the bankruptcy, consider taking steps to rebuild your credit file, such as applying for a secured credit card or a retail credit card with a low limit. By making on-time payments and responsibly using credit, you’ll be able to build a strong credit history and make positive changes to your financial life.

Camille Puschautz is a researcher, writer, and Web producer at Think Glink Media, with a background in print and digital media. Previously, Camille worked for Bloomberg News in New York and MediaTec Publishing in Chicago. She is a graduate of the University of Dallas and Northwestern University, where she received a master’s degree in journalism.


  1. Ella N., Detroit says:

    Well it all sounds great, but what do you do when the mortgage company ignores you and refuses to work with you? They didn’t even offer a reaffirmation and the judge was pretty upset about it but no matter how many times we contacted the mortgage holder, no response. We let it go to bankruptcy, continued to pay the mortgage until my spouse died and then allowed it to go into foreclosure. I will pay a dear price for this now as I have nowhere to live, cannot get another mortgage and they continued up until the absolute end to refuse to talk to me or assist in any way shape or form. I wonder how they sleep at night.

  2. Nancy says:


    Thank you for writing this very informative article. I have a question related to what you wrote. I went through bankruptcy and didn’t reaffirm my mortgage debt with the lender so it was included in my Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I am still living in the house and now going through foreclosure now. I’m wondering if the lender can still go back and put the foreclosure on my credit report since it was already reported as discharged in bankruptcy?

    • Tracy says:

      What response did u get regarding if your bankruptcy was discharged can forclosure report again negatively on your credit report

  3. Nancy says:

    Ella, I understand there is a moderation process that people go through in foreclosure. What did the bank do in that process, if anything? I am sorry to hear about the loss of your husband an current living situation.

  4. You should know who I am says:

    I’d like to know how Equifax can show a judgment entered against me on an account that was included and discharged in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I’ve disputed 3 times unsuccessfully even though I’ve provided many, many supportive documents showing the judgment amount and creditor that sought judgment were covered under the Chapter 13. Why in the world do they have a dispute process if you can’t win a dispute even with supportive evidence? The other 2 credit reporting agencies do not show the judgment as they obviously know it was included in the bankruptcy.

  5. Lynn says:

    I did not reaffirm my mortgage and have faithfully made payments on my house. If I send all information showing that I have paid / never late to the credit bureaus will the bureaus put it on my credit report?

  6. Peter C. says:

    By reaffirming the debt, most lenders will report it to credit reporting agencies. This can hurt your credit rating as much as help, for instance: You have a higher debt to income ratio, and any missed future payments are negatively reported. But the main reason not to reaffirm is to protect against future unexpected changes that cause your plans to change, and you decide you need to let the house go. Never reaffirm if the debt exceeds the value of the property.

    Reaffirmation agreements primarily benefit lenders, not consumers. Consumers who did not reaffirm can still contact their lender to obtain a payment loan history, which can be shown as evidence of good payments.

    Nancy: The short answer is Yes. A foreclosure is reported as a “public record”, not a debt.

    You should: The judgment is a public record. The bankruptcy discharged the debt, but did not remove the judgment from your county court record, and it is still a lawful judgment until it expires, or you go through the process of removing it.

  7. Mimi says:

    what if i never affirm the mortgage?
    and if I do…how do I do it?
    what forms to fill out?
    do i contact the mortgage company?

  8. Cassie says:

    I didn’t know I could reaffirm my mortgage. I almost always paid it on time, maybe late a few times. In fact I sold the house and paid off the mortgage less than a year after my bankruptcy. However, it shows up on my credit report as included in the bankruptcy. Can I contact the lender (Wells Fargo) to change this?

  9. jenny h. says:

    If you are feeling like you are entirely trapped and overwhelmed by debt, and If you are thinking of bankruptcy there is one very important concept you must be aware of, and that is that the quicker you act the more options you will have. And also ask your attorney advices.

  10. Tru says:

    I applied for bankruptcy and submitted my reaffirmation of my home loan. A year later, my bank tells me I never reaffirmed the loan and that the debt was discharged. Now they have charged me more interest on my home than prior years with no indication of principal paid. I have not been late and in fact have paid more towards the principle because I believed the reaffirmation had gone through without a hitch, The bank now says that after 90 days of discharge with no reaffirmation on file they will not reaffirm it even if I requested it. Do I need a lawyer to reopen my case?

    • EFX Moderator says:

      Tru, If you have questions regarding your mortgage reaffirmation you can contact your attorney at any time and he or she should be able to help. Best of luck.

  11. Khoy says:

    Hi My name is Khoy. I also have file for chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009 and discharge in 2010. I don’t know if talking to lawyer will help me to resolve this issue. I am trying to refinance my home but the lender is asking for the reaffirmation on my mortage loan. The lawyer was suppose to help me to reaffirm the debt for the house because i was planinng to keep my home. But recently i look on my bankruptcy paper it state that he had surrenderd my debt. I am up to date on my loan. My question is Can i refinance the home without reaffirming my debt? And if i want to sell this home can i still do that? Is the home still legally belong to me?

    • Lucy W. says:

      I am currently in the same situation like you, so are you able to refinance your mortgage w/o reaffirming your first mortgage

    • Cindy says:

      I am in the same boat as you, did you find anything out as far as if you can sell your house legally? Please share whatever you may have found out

    • Mike says:

      Did we all go to the same Bankruptcy Attorney? I was never told anything about reaffirmation although I had made it specifically clear I wanted to keep the property. I am now being told by the Mortgage company I need to submit a reaffirmation letter. Payments have always been current. Any ideas?

    • EFX Moderator says:

      I’m sorry to hear that, Khoy. It may be a good idea to speak with another attorney who can help you assess your situation and decide how to move forward. Best of luck.

  12. Ann v. says:

    We have a mobile that we didn’t sign a reaffirmation agreement on. We are wanting to purchase a new home this summer. So are we able to walk away the mobile home and get a new home loan without it hurting us?

  13. DH says:

    We filed chptr 7 bankruptcy 2009, did not reaffirm our mortgage now 5 years later after job losses we have stopped making payments on our mortgage Our lender never once reported ANY of the payments we made for 5 years ontime but now since we cannot make the payments they have “updated” our credit report. I understand the mortgage debt liability was erased with the bankruptcy (discharged in 2010) ; but why can the lender now update my credit with late payments? The foreclosure will take place against the property. Seems like a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting act to me. I asked Transunion to open an investigation. We even tried to get PNC to report the positive payment activity two years ago trying to refinance into a lower interest rate. They did not do that and would not do that. But now they can just “update” my credit report to show the negative activity?

  14. Kathryn says:

    Filed Chapter 7 2011, didn’t reaffirm mortgage. Foreclosure October 2013. Do we pay taxes on the difference the house was sold for?

  15. Vicki M. says:

    I also filed a chapter 7 in 2011, the house was not included.I refinance the house and had no problem what so ever. Now I.m trying to refinance again with the same company and they are telling me I need a reaffirm letter to be considered for refinance . The court will not touch this because the case is closed and the house is worth less than the loan. I’m at a loss.Don’t know where to turn.

    • Mike says:

      By law you had to list the home, even if you were keeping it. Did you use an Attorney? If yes, he failed to properly follow protocol in your Bankruptcy. You should contact him immediately.

  16. Tanya L. says:

    We filed a Chapter 7 in 2009 and it was discharged in 2010. Our primary residence and our rental property were not included in the bankruptcy. Once we received a copy of our credit report we noticed our mortgages were not listed. We received a modification on both properties and have made on time payments on both after the filing. Are the modifications a form of reaffirmation? We really would like to have our on time mortgage payments to show on our reports to assist us in reestablishing our credit and raise our credit score. Are the lenders obligated through the Fair Credit Reporting Act to show our payments on our report?

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