The Need For Speed And Car Loans

These days, everyone has to have a car. Even with global warming on the rise, the demand for cars does not seem to be falling. Instead, we are seeing the development of environment-friendly cars. And people are still rushing to the stores to buy their very own set of wheels. The need for speed has become a necessity today. Snail mail is completely passé as email has taken over from it almost completely. The rise of the Internet has made speed an absolute necessity. Nobody today would walk if he had the option of flying. The twenty-first century is the age of speed.

The need for speed makes it necessary for everyone to have a car, or at least aspire towards one. Moreover, these days most of us can afford to buy a car. Auto loans have become very easy on the pocket. As a result, more and more potential car buyers are rushing to make the most of the current situation. If you own property or some other valuable asset that can act as collateral, you are lucky. Secured car loans generally offer much lower interest rates than do unsecured car loans. Thus, if you can avail of a secured loan, your repayment costs will be reduced considerably.

Of course, unsecured car loans are not necessarily a bad deal. These days, with the proliferation of loan providers on the Internet, it is quite easy to find low-priced car loans. Even people with a history of bad credit can avail of competitively priced auto loans. The loans that are offered to people with bad credit histories tend to charge higher interest rates. But with the immense competition in the field of loans these days, getting a cheap auto loan may not be too difficult.

In fact, while purchasing a car, one must take care to find the cheapest car loans possible. After all, a car will require a good deal of maintenance. You will have to fill fuel and send the car for regular servicing. Moreover, you will also have to invest in some good car insurance. As in the case of loans, cheap car insurance is not too tough to locate these days. However, you cannot just sit around and expect cheap insurance (or loans for that matter) to fall out of the sky. Instead, you must do your share of research before making the final decision on the insurance policy. Only then can one come across the best one.

Auto Repossession Before Bankruptcy

The other day I received a call where an individual asked me whether filing bankruptcy would allow for a car that has been repossessed to be returned. Although my response probably failed to satisfy the caller (the usual attorney response of it depends), here is what is required in California (at least how the courts have viewed the law).

Background

In most vehicle contracts the lender retains a right to repossess a vehicle if the borrower fails to make the scheduled payments. With many contracts, this repossession can be done outside of any court proceedings.

However, once an individual files for bankruptcy many of the rules change. For one, an automatic stay is implemented. This stay prevents most actions against the debtor (individual that files for bankruptcy). Specifically, the automatic stay strictly prohibits any lawsuit or repossession against a debtor that is delinquent on car loan payments. Any repossession after a bankruptcy petition is filed constitutes a violation of the automatic stay, with the repossession void and of no effect. In that case, the lender would be immediately required to return the vehicle to the debtor.

Effect of Bankruptcy on Prepetition Repossession

Section 542 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that entities in possession of “property of the bankruptcy estate” are generally required to turn the property over to either the trustee (in Chapter 7) or the debtor (in Chapter 13). This big sticking point then for this turnover requirement is determining what is “property of the estate.”

Section 541 of the Bankruptcy Code defines property of the estate. This definition includes “all legal or equitable interests of the debtor in possession as of the commencement of the case.” Basically this definition states that whatever rights the debtor has at the commencement of the case continue in bankruptcy. As for the vehicle that has been repossessed, the court has to discover what rights a debtor had when the bankruptcy case was filed.

These rights are determine by state law (California State law). Under the California Civil Code (section 2983.2), a debtor has the right to redeem a repossessed vehicle up until the date the car is sold by the repossessing lender.

Two recent cases have come to different conclusions as to whether turnover of the vehicle is required upon the filing of the bankruptcy petition. First, in a case from the Southern District of California (In re: Fitch, 1998), the bankruptcy court held that while a repossessed car is property of the estate, the right to possess the car was transferred to the lender prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. The court interpreted the statutes to mean that the automatic stay freezes the positions of the debtor and creditors. Thus, the lender had the right to maintain possession. The court did state that a vehicle could be returned to a debtor upon the debtor’s giving of adequate protection. In most cases adequate protection means the establishing of proof of insurance and proof that the debtor will be able to make the regular payments on the car.

In the Northern District of California (In re: Cortez, 2010), the Bankruptcy Court interpreted the Bankruptcy Code, and specifically the section on the automatic stay, to mean that a “knowing retention of estate property violates… the automatic stay.” Because a debtor has the right to redeem until the date of a sale by the lender, the vehicle remains part of the estate, and subject to turnover. In this case, the debtor provided adequate protection to the secured creditor. However, the court seemed to say that it was not necessary for turnover.

What to do?

If your car has been repossessed, and you want to make sure you retain possession, bankruptcy may be a solution if you are not able to pay the balance before a lender’s sale. However, while the Northern District seemed to state that adequate assurance is not necessary for turnover, it will ultimately be necessary to avoid a lender’s motion for relief from the automatic stay. Be prepared to show (a) insurance, (b) regular and sufficient income, and (c) an ability to pay for the vehicle.

Lending Tree Is A Good Alternative For Auto Loans

It can be hard to secure a loan in this increasingly shaky economic climate. This is particularly true in the case of auto loans. Most lenders, who are already reluctant to lend, are even more hesitant to provide financing for an asset that is guaranteed to depreciate. Even consumers with exceptionally good credit and a large down payment may be forced to apply at multiple places. One of the best alternatives to pounding the pavement in search of a loan is to go through Lending Tree. The online lending site helps match consumers with lenders, and helps borrowers get the best terms.

Lending Tree brokers just about every kind of loan, from mortgages to auto loans. It also handles refinancing, home equity loans, credit card applications and insurance quotes. The site’s largest potential market is its auto loans, because more American consumers have a car loan than a mortgage. Lending Tree has grown rapidly since it was founded in 1998. The idea behind the site is simple; a consumer applies for a loan and multiple lenders compete to provide the money. The consumer selects the loan with the best terms. Consumers with good credit get better terms, but even subprime borrowers may be able to get a good deal through Lending Tree.

Auto loans are one of Lending Tree’s most popular products. The site allows consumers to request financing for both new and used cars. Refinancing loans are also available. The loan period can be as little as two years or as long as five. The consumer gets to state a preference on the application. He or she can also choose to include a co-borrower, such as a spouse or other relative.

One of the advantages of Lending Tree is the relative anonymity it offers. The would-be borrower doesn’t have to sit in the lobby of the bank or dealership, nervously waiting for the answer. He or she fills out the application online and waits for the results. The application must include the borrower’s name, address, social security number, phone number, place of employment and income. Applicants must also give their email address and create a password. The desired vehicle, loan amount and preferred term must also be included. An applicant who has not decided on a vehicle can use the website’s tools to get dealer quotes or search used car listings.

After the application has been submitted, Lending Tree will pull the applicant’s credit report and turn the application over to its lending partners. Each lender reviews the application and decides whether or not to make an offer. An offer will include the amount the lender is willing to provide, the length of the loan, the interest rate, the required down payment and any fees or other terms. The consumer gets the offers by email. Each loan application may generate up to four offers.

Results vary and depend on the applicant’s creditworthiness, requested loan amount and other variables. At the moment, the average interest rate for a four-year auto loan on a new car is 4.26 percent, while the average rate for the same loan on a used car is 4.91 percent. A borrower with stellar credit may get a loan for as little as 2.5 percent, while one with poor or no credit may have to pay as much as 16 percent – assuming he or she can obtain financing. Lending Tree does not guarantee positive results.

Once all the offers have been made, the applicant reviews them and chooses which to accept. There is a handy guide to comparing auto loans on the Lending Tree website. He or she can then fill out the paperwork and close the loan. Most lenders offer both electronic and paper billing for their auto loans. This quick and easy process is probably the easiest way for consumers to get the best loan.