DEAR BENNY: I am retired. About 18 months ago (before the economic crash), I bought a fixer-upper and renovated it, but have been unable to sell it. If I let the property go into foreclosure, can/will the bank that gave me the mortgage try to get at my other assets (equity in my home, stocks, etc.)? –Irvine

DEAR IRVINE: You are asking about a legal concept known as a "deficiency judgment." Let’s take this example: You owe the bank $200,000 when you go into default. The bank — after trying to work something out with you — forecloses on the property. At the sale, the property is sold for $150,000. The difference — $50,000 — is the deficiency.

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