In a non-recourse mortgage state, borrowers are not held personally liable for more than the home’s value at the time that the loan is repaid. The lender may recoup some of its loss through foreclosure. However, the lender may not sue the borrower for additional funds. If the foreclosure sale does not generate enough money to satisfy the loan, the lender must accept the loss.
Each non-recourse state has its own anti-deficiency statutes that prohibit lenders from seeking judgments. In a few cases, anti-deficiency statues do allow lenders to collect a limited amount of money from the borrower (such as the difference between the debt and the fair market value of the property).
Note that in some states (such as California) non-recourse laws apply only to “purchase money” loans (i.e. original home loans that are used to purchase property). Almost all HELOCs and home equity loans are considered recourse loans and lenders for these loans may sue borrowers to recoup loss. (Except in some cases where the second mortgage lender forces the foreclosure. See: HELOC Foreclosures). There has been some speculation that mortgage refinances do not constitute “purchase money” loans. However, there have been no cases to determine this issue one way or the other.
Anti-Deficiency / Non-Recourse States
One Action States
In some states, lenders are only permitted a single lawsuit to collect mortgage debt. This plays out differently depending on the state’s laws. In New York, for example, a lender must choose between the actions of foreclosing on the property or suing to collect the debt. The following states have some type of one action statute:
See Also: HELOC Foreclosure