April 27, 2010, 1:30 PM ET
By Dawn Wotapka
Milton and Patricia Harper narrowly avoided foreclosure. Again.
Their 5,300-square-foot McMansion, built for the “Extreme Makeover” television show was set to be auctioned off in Atlanta earlier this month. But the Harpers averted that fate with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing–for the second time.
The couple had filed for their first Chapter 13 in early 2009, as foreclosure loomed on their supersized home. The bankruptcy halted the process. It’s possible that the family was unable to fulfill the payment plan set up under the bankruptcy and thus had to file again this year–a common occurrence says Jessica Gabel, a law professor with Georgia State University.
The Harpers didn’t return a call for comment. Lender JP Morgan Chase, which now needs court permission to proceed with a foreclosure sale, declined to comment.
As we’ve written, the Harper episode aired in the 2004-2005 season. The family’s modest home with septic-tank issues was replaced by a showpiece resembling an English castle. In addition to a new house, which they were given outright, the Harpers received a scholarship fund for their three sons.
Mortgage troubles came after the family used the house as collateral for a $450,000 loan, which was modified by Chase in 2008.
“That is unusual,” said Ms. Gabel, the professor. “That doesn’t pass the smell test. They’re going to have to demonstrate to the court why they should proceed” with the raffle. Plus, she added, any post-bankruptcy petition income might have to go to creditors.