Short Selling May Not Resolve Your Problems

Short Selling May Not Resolve Your Problems


Consumers seeking to save their homes from foreclosure and the resultant long term hit to their credit ratings will sometimes put their homes on the market and accept a price for less than what they owe on their mortgage. If the lender agrees to this deal, then the original homeowner can get out from underneath his mortgage and be free of further obligation.

Well, not so fast.

housing crisisTheoretically, a short sell (short sale) should be final, a transaction whereby the lender forgives the loan deficiency, choosing to swallow a comparatively small loss up front, rather then a sizable loss that would probably be incurred had the house passed through foreclosure.

According to The Wall Street Journal (A Short Sale May Not Mean You’re Home Free), that theory isn’t always meeting reality. Sometimes lenders will go after the first homeowner in a bid to recoup some or all of the deficiency.

For example, let’s say you are behind on your mortgage and just a month or two away from foreclosure. You owe $295,000 on your home, but it is worth a bit more even though you have owned it for several years. A crummy real estate market is pushed down home values, yet you believe that you could get close to that amount for your home and pay off your mortgage.

Well, the tough market proves two things: buyers are tough too and are looking for bargains. You listed it for $320,000, but the best offer received was just $280,000 which you accepted pending your lender’s approval which you need in order to be released from your obligation. You see, when you seek to sell for less than what you owe in effect you are putting your lender in a position to take it or leave it. If this lender believes that your short sell is the best deal, then they may reluctantly accept the deal.

This is where things can get complicated.

Whenever performing any real estate transaction, you want to have a lawyer representing your interests. A real estate attorney will ensure that your short sell is up to snuff and includes one important provision: that the bank will not go after you for the deficiency.

If that provision is not in place, then guess what? Your lender can go after you for the loan deficiency, costing you thousands of dollars. And you thought that it was too expensive to get a lawyer!

Oh, by the way, if you think that short selling your home means you can automatically turn around and buy a new home within the coming months or year, think again. On future credit applications you will be required to state whether you have been involved in a short sale which is sometimes also called a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

Lying about it can cause serious legal problems for you. Telling the truth will keep you from getting a home loan. Regardless, a short sale is a serious matter, one that should be done as a last resort.

In fact, some lenders say that there is no credit advantage in a short sale versus a foreclosure, which means that your credit will likely reflect that information. (see MSN Money: Use a short sale to escape foreclosure)


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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".