Starting January 1, 2013, a new California law will protect homeowners who default on their refinance loans from personal liability for any deficiency following foreclosure. Existing anti-deficiency law protects a borrower from personal liability for the difference between the principal balance and what the lender receives at foreclosure if the loan is a purchase money loan secured by an owner-occupied property with one-to-four residential units. The new law, Senate Bill 1069, extends that anti-deficiency protection to include any loan used to refinance the purchase money loan, plus any loan fees, costs, and related expenses for the refinance.
The anti-deficiency protection, however, does not extend to any “cash out” in a refinance, which is when the lender advances new principal not applied to any obligation owed under the purchase money loan. This new law does not affect the other anti-deficiency protections for non-judicial foreclosures (or trustee’s sales) and seller financing.
This new law only applies to refinance loans or other credit transactions used to refinance a purchase money loan, or subsequent refinances of a purchase money loan, that are executed on or after January 1, 2013. For purposes of this law, any payment of principal shall be deemed to be applied first to the principal balance of the purchase money loan, and then to the principal balance of any new advance and interest payments shall be applied to any interest due and owing.
Many homeowners do not realize that, by refinancing, they lose their anti-deficiency protection for a purchase money loan.
The downside, the new refinance loans will have a higher cost, as the security element for the lender will be lower, and the risk the lender will have on losing principle higher… i.e. an unintended consequence.