Are You Looking Into Selling Your Property as a "Short Sale"?

Although the terms "short pay" or "short sale" are heard frequently, some people are still asking what they mean: It means the property owner owes more on his/her property than it can be sold for, or sold for after paying all the standard closing costs. In other words, the seller is "under water". Briefly, the mortgage holder(s)--there may be more than one loan on the property--must agree to accept the lower payoff amount, which means the bank is losing money on the seller's outstanding loan amount. The owner must "apply" for that approval by submitting financial information and a written statement about the reasons for their situation. As more and more properties are involved in this situation, some banks are finally, at long last, gaining some level of efficiency at dealing with all the short pay applications. Guidelines for the seller include submission to the bank of a signed and dated financial worksheet (usually in a standardized format), and signed and dated hardship letter, as well as a copy of the listing agreement, and letter of authorization for the party helping you with your short sale to communicate with the bank about your loan.

The sale generally must be an "arms-length" transaction; you cannot sell to someone you have a close personal relationship with, i.e., family member, personal friend, even a neighbor.

Different banks have different approaches about when to best receive submission of the seller's package for approval; and these approaches have changed from one time period to another, even in the last several months, so it may be difficult to know what to expect. Some mortgage holders will want the seller's package up front; other banks seem to respond faster when an offer has been obtained and is sent with the seller's package so that the seller's package does not "sit" at the bank and get lost.

The contract terms between the buyer and seller is negotiated as if it were a normal sale, but it's important to note that all disclosure about the short sale status must be given, and the buyer must in almost every case be willing to wait at least 60 days for the entire process. Even though the bank is not the seller, its role is key in whether the property gets sold and for what price. And, the bank will want an accounting of all costs of sale, and may not approve certain costs in order to preserve its bottom line. Banks have also been known to "approve" in advance a certain amount as the selling price, hoping that a buyer will be found at that price and they will therefore lose less money, but the market may decline, so the actual selling price may be less the longer it takes to find a buyer, or the approved price may not be realistic for the specific area of the property.

The Obama Administration will soon be issuing short sales guidelines and standardized forms--the outcome for all lenders to participate is yet unknown. It is hoped these guidelines will prevent future unrealistic negotiations among all parties, and faster treatment of short sales to assist stabilizing the real estate market.

As more loans entered into 2-3 years ago come up for their reset dates, the short sale process will continue to be a "staple" in the market, making a more uniform process mandatory. Some areas are completely dominated by either short sale/pre-foreclosure properties on the market, or bank-owned properties that have already been through foreclosure.

Any seller contemplating this as the only possible way to sell their property should also seek any legal and tax advice at the same time, especially if also contemplating bankruptcy.

Short sales generally have less impact on one's credit (assuming there are no or very few missed mortgage payments) than does a foreclosure, which will stay on the credit report for a much longer period of time and be a more severe "hit". Even with the FICO hits of missed mortgage payments, a short pay may be preferable for several reasons, including that the IRS has allowed debt forgiveness on mortgage amounts involved in the short sales. Foreclosure carries a longer period of impact on one's credit, something to think about when FICO scores are used in insurance applications, employment promotions, and of course, credit application.

There are many related and complex issues with these situations, and much confusing information which seems to change or modify on a monthly basis, and even legal and tax advisors are not totally familiar with impacts on credit scores in these two situations. For the most accurate information and opinion, contact a reliable loan professional who is in contact with borrower's credit reports on a regular basis.

More recently, per National Association of Realtors website:

On May 14, 2009, the Obama Administration announced its upcoming Foreclosure Alternatives Program, expected to launch in late July. Among other things, the new program:

Establishes financial incentives for servicers, sellers, and second lien holders to encourage the completion of short-sale transactions.

Requires that a timeline, of no fewer than 90 days, be set to allow a homeowner to sell a home, without threat of foreclosure action.

1 comment:

Barcelona Apartment said...

Nice job, on short sale property. you are explaining all aspects & concept what should be informed to all . .
Barcelona Apartment


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