If they have good credit, Americans can roll their credit card payments up into one smaller bill with the help of a lender. If they don't, they typically need a good amount of home equity to satisfy the bankís desire for collateral. Unfortunately, the struggling real estate market is making bad credit debt consolidation loans harder to come by, thanks mostly to declining property values.

What's happening to our equity?

Freddie Mac's most recent mortgage survey reported average fixed mortgage rates at all-time record lows, with 30-year rates at 3.94 percent and 15-year rates at 3.21. According to the federally-backed mortgage giant's vice president, Frank Nothaft, the plummeting rates are mostly due to the depressed housing market.

The suffering market has also worked to depress home values. Recently, the Federal Reserve reported that American households lost nearly $400 billion in property value during the first three-quarters of 2011. This is owed mostly to a lack of buyer competition and wide availability of cheap housing, which inevitably tends to depress real estate value.

Can I still get help?

Homeowners hoping to relieve their financial hardships by securing bad credit debt consolidation loans are going to have trouble unless they live in a place where home values remain relatively high. You can still get help, clear debt with a home equity loan; however, your ability to acquire one depends greatly on your location. Although Freddie Mac and the Federal Reserve paint depressing pictures; they're figures are only based on estimates, which don't speak for every house or ever community.

If you live somewhere that hasnít experienced a lot of foreclosures and is enjoying relatively strong employment conditions, your home may still have enough value to provide the equity you need to satisfy a lender.

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