7-10 years and damage is bad. You will have to pay HIGHER interest on loans and BIGGER down payments.
The effect on your credit will depend on how the lender chooses to report it to the credit bureau. Sometimes a lender will be willing to report it 'paid as agreed' or 'settled' entry on the credit report rather than an actual repossession. If it is reported as an actual repossession or foreclosure it will be on your credit for seven years and negatively effect your rating.
Any repossession will negatively impact your credit. Organizations using the credit report do not differentiate between voluntary and non-voluntary. Rather, the organizations see that you were not responsible with credit and what you purchasd needed to be taken away. Generically, a repossession is considered the same as a chargeoff or writeoff, so the impact on the credit score may be anywhere from 50 to 200 points, depending on one's personal credit situation.
Under US law as I understand it, any repossession is detrimental to your credit record. Both a voluntary repossession or a standard repossession have the same effect on your credit rating. Both will appear as repossessions, and either will result in a negative mark on your credit history. Any repossession will appear on a credit report for 7.5 years from the date of first delinquency. You will likely see your credit score drop significantly, as having a repossession in your credit history marks you as a credit risk. The only advantage that I see in doing a 'voluntary' repossession is that it may cost you less in legal fees. In general, I would encourage you to work with the lender to find ways of keeping your home and coming to some kind of agreement on reduced monthly payments, or even weekly payments which will involve a lower interest rate. Good luck with it.
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