Law Offices of W. George Senft


The Homestead Exemption in Oregon

The thought of bankruptcy can bring up many worries and fears, especially related to keeping important property, such as your home. While some people do end up losing their homes during bankruptcy, this is not always the case. The key to keeping your home is to prioritize your mortgage payments over other debts that will end up being discharged during your bankruptcy. Mortgage lenders may also be willing to work out a payment plan or some other compromise in order to avoid pursuing foreclosure.


Federal and state governments allow a variety of exemptions that consumers can use to protect the property they’ve worked so hard to acquire. The exemptions can also be used to lower disposable income and make a Chapter 13 repayment plan more reasonable. I have years of experience utilizing exemptions to build solid bankruptcy cases, and I stay up to date on all the latest revisions to bankruptcy law.


Saving Your Home

One of the most important exemptions for many people is the homestead exemption. This exemption can be used to protect your primary residence, which could be a single family home, townhome, condo, manufactured home, or floating home. The home must be your primary residence where you, your spouse, and/or children live and not a rental or vacation home. The exemption values in Oregon are currently set at up to $40,000 in equity for single filers or $50,000 for married couples. Some people decide to sell their home as part of getting their finances in order, and we can use this exemption to protect some of your proceeds, as long as the proceeds are used to purchase a new home or pay rent for up to a year.

In the state of Oregon, you have a choice of using the state or federal guidelines for exemption values. I’ll work with you to help you make the most beneficial choice. We can also use the “wildcard exemption” if the equity in your home exceeds the allowed amount. This amount is added to the homestead exemption and could possibly save your home.


Thinking Long Term

The decisions surrounding bankruptcy can have some important consequences, and it can be difficult to know what to do when you need to discharge your debt but also really want to keep your home. Sometimes it’s best to put aside emotions and do what looks best on paper, even if it means giving up your home and making a new start. If your mortgage no longer fits with your financial situation and budget, you might want to sell and then rent for a while as you save money and rebuild your credit in preparation for purchasing a new home. On the other hand, if you’re able to discharge most of your other debts, your mortgage may become more affordable. Before you make any decisions related to your home, it’s a good idea to speak with a tax expert or real estate professional. I’m also here to share the details of bankruptcy with you so that you can make well-informed decisions. It’s my goal to set you up for a successful financial future, so give me a call to get started.