About Short Sales...
Q: What is a Short Sale?
A: Short Sale is a Real Estate sales transaction contingent upon the successful negotiations with sellers mortgage lenders and its investors, lienholders and/or other third parties to agree to sell the property for less than the total amount owed. Generally, a homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the house is currently worth.
Short Sale Example: If the loan amount on your property is $280,000 and the property can only be sold for $180,000 today (less $15,000 in closing costs), you would only have $165,000 left to pay to bank. In a short sale, the bank would have to agree to accept $165,000 in order to allow the sale to proceed. The sellers closing costs are paid by the short sale lender from the proceeds of the sale at closing: Realtors Commissions, Sellers Lawyer/ Attorney legal fees, Property Taxes, Title insurance, etc.
Q: Should I do a Short Sale or let the property go in Foreclosure?
A: Before you decide to walk away from your property and let it go in foreclosure, you should try to short sell it first, even if the current market value is less than half of what you owe on the mortgage. Most lenders will let you sell the property for less than you owe on the mortgage and will cancel and forgive the remaining loan balance if you are in some kind of financial hardship and have no ability to continue mortgage payments. It costs you nothing to try to do the short sale as your lender will pay all your closing costs including the real estate commissions, back taxes, sellers attorney fees, title fees. The lender may even offer you relocation assistance, cash at closing, to help you with your moving expenses. There is a 80-90% chance your lender will work with you, and agree to let you short sell the property, will cancel the difference and will not pursue the deficiency in the future.
Our goal is for you to be fully released from all liability to your lenders to repay the loans. We will apply for a total cancellation of debt and deficiency waiver. Whether you are released from the promise to repay the loan depends on your circumstances, your financial situation, your lender and its investors who backed your loan.
However, if you are not satisfied with the results, we give you the right to cancel the short sale listing, at any time, without any penalty or obligation. We have extremely high short sale approval rate with 80-90% successfully closed depending on the lender and the seller financial situation. Most banks prefer short sale vs. foreclosure because they get more money back through short sale than foreclosure sale.
We Offer Free Short Sale Listing Service.
We understand that you are in financial hardship. You will never be asked to pay us any money regardless if the deal closes or not. There is no cost or out of pocket expenses to seller. We are paid by the Short Sale lender. You may cancel the short sale listing at anytime, without any penalty, if you are not satisfied with the results.
Successful Short Sale Program Guidelines:
Generally, the account should be delinquent before the short sale can be approved. The homeowner should be behind on mortgage payments or about to fall behind to qualify for the short sale. If you are in advanced foreclosure, you can still apply for the short sale even if you have missed many mortgage payments. You have until the auction sale date, but it is generally too late, when the property is sold at auction or converts back to the lender and becomes REO (bank owned property).If the homeowner is current on the mortgage payments, there is a slim chance the bank will agree to do the short sale. Most lenders require the homeowner to be 30 days behind on mortgage payments to be considered for the short sale but there are some exceptions.
It is difficult to negotiate short sales and get the bank to agree to the short sale when the homeowner is current on the mortgage payments and/or has financial ability to continue mortgage payments. The bank might say: where is the problem here? They can afford the payments because they keep sending us money every month.
Many lenders have short sale guidelines that state a homeowner should be 30 or even 60 days delinquent.
Explanation of Financial Hardship and proof of inability to afford the payments on the property are needed to qualify for the short sale (generally, the account should be delinquent and your total monthly expenses should be greater than your total monthly income to qualify for the short sale).
- You will be required to list the property for sale at the low end of the fair market value based on comparable properties recently sold in the same area.
- Anticipate the short sale process to take 5-6 months on average.
- You will sell your home and will be required to move out, no later than at closing.
- You are responsible for all maintenance and expenses on the property until it is sold.
- The short sale must be an Arms Length Transaction. An arms length transaction means that you cannot list the property with or sell it to anyone that you are related to or with whom you have a personal or business relationship.
- The proceeds from the short sale will be used to pay off the loan and the remaining loan balance will be cancelled.
- Bank may continue the foreclosure process while they review the short sale request. However, most banks will suspend the foreclosure sale date until the short sale program expiration date and/or as long as you continue to abide by the terms and conditions of the agreement.
- Once the short sale is completed, the Bank will cancel the foreclosure and report to the credit bureaus that your loan was completed as a short sale.
Q: Why banks do Short Sales?
A: Banks prefer short sales because short sales make more financial sense to bank than foreclosures. In most cases banks receive more money through a short sale than a foreclosure. Foreclosure: The average loss per foreclosure (REO) is 65%. That means the lender or investor/note holder nets only $35,000 on a $100,000 note. Short Sale: the average loss on a Short Sale is 40%. Using the same $100,000 original note example, the lender ends up with $60,000, that is a savings of a 25% on a Short Sale versus Foreclsoure.
- Short Sales help reduce foreclosure rates.
- Short Sales help stabilize market values.
- Short Sales minimize losses to banks.
Foreclosure process is very costly and time consuming to bank. By the time a property is fully foreclosed/repossessed, there may be damage due to lack of utilities, vandalism, etc. and the value further goes down. Most banks are willing to work with short sales if the short seller is in some kind of legitimatefinancial hardship and a reasonable offer is received prior to foreclosure auction sale date.
Q: Will I ever hear back from this bank after the short sale?
A: Our goal is for you to be fully released from all liability to your lenders to repay the loans. We will apply for a total cancellation of your debt and a deficiency waiver. Whether you are released from the promise to repay the loan depends on your circumstances, your financial situation, your lender and its investors who backed your loan.
Upon receiving the short sale approval from your lender, your attorney will review the short sale approval. If the terms and conditions of the short sale approval are not acceptable to you, we will go back to your lender and will try to re-negotiate it.
Q: What is a Foreclosure?
A: Foreclosure is a repossession of Real Estate (Real property). It’s a legal process to deprive the homeowner of any interest in the property. The lender forces a sale of a mortgaged property because the borrower has not met the terms of the mortgage.
Lis Pendens refers to any pending lawsuit or to a specific situation with a public notice of litigation that has been recorded in the same location where the title of real property has been recorded.
In foreclosure, the lender tries to deprive the property owner of any interest in the property and force a sale of the mortgaged property because the borrower did not keep the terms of the mortgage. At the time when you signed the mortgage, you most likely signed a promissory note (The Note). This note is your personal guaranty to repay the loan to your lender. Once you miss 3 mortgage payments the lender may initiate the foreclosure proceedings (repossession process).
Q: Can I apply for the Short Sale if there is a Foreclosure pending?
A: Yes. The Bank may continue the foreclosure process while they review the short sale request. However, most banks will suspend the foreclosure sale date until the short sale program is completed or expires and/or as long as you continue to abide by the terms and conditions of the short sale. Some banks will only give you 4 months to short sell the property, but usually most of them will not foreclosure if you have a legitimate buyer with a reasonable offer.Once the short sale is completed, the Bank will cancel the foreclosure.
Q: Who qualifies for a Short Sale?
A: A Short Sale applicant should have some kind of incurable financial hardship that has caused him to miss mortgage payments or is about fall behind. There are many reasons to apply for a Short Sale. Examples of financial hardship include: Job loss/ unemployment, death of spouse, business failure, reduction of income, sudden illness/ medical emergency, divorce, increased property taxes, forced relocation, bankruptcy, military service, natural disasters or any event that changes the homeowners financial ability to continue making mortgage payments. Note: loss of equity is not considered a hardship.
Q: What if the short seller is too rich or has no hardship?
A: If a Short Seller has liquid assets/ savings/ cash/ high income/ high credit score, the lender may determine the seller did not provide sufficient proof of legitimate financial hardship. The lender may still allow the short sale to proceed, but the seller may be asked to financially contribute to the deal, bring cash to closing or sign a promissory note to repay part of the shortfall after the closing. The bank may agree to cancel most of the shortfall but not all of it.
Q: I heard short sales are impossible to do and never close, is it true?
The national average short sale approval rate is about 40%. Ours is 80-90% depending on how many lenders are involved. There can be no assurance that your short sale will be approved. However, if you list your property with us, there is a 90% chance the deal will successfully close. We have extremely high short sale approval rate (9 out of 10 closed). Our experience, connections, marketing, pricing and negotiation strategies is the key.
Q: How long does it take to do a Short Sale?
A: There is no specific answer to this question. Short Sale process can take as little as 2 months or could go for over a year depending on who the lenders are and how quickly the buyer is found with an acceptable offer. 5-6 months is the average timeframe to complete a short sale process: 1 month marketing time (finding a buyer), 2-3 months for bank review/approvals, 30 days to close the deal.
Q: Who do you represent in a Short Sale, the Seller or the Bank?
A: We represent the property seller, not the bank (the bank is only an approver and is not a party in the transaction).
Q: Who pays the sellers closing costs: real estate commissions, sellers attorney fees, unpaid property taxes, title insurance, unpaid assessments and other closing costs?
A: The Bank (Short Sale Lender).
Q: Is the seller responsible to pay any real estate commissions or attorney fees?
A: No. Our fees are negotiated directly with your lender and are not paid out of your pocket. Our fees are only collected if there is a successful closing and are paid by the lender out of the proceeds of the sale. Different lenders have different guidelines as to how much they will pay. You will not be responsible for any real estate commissions or legal fees that your lender does not agree to pay.
Q: Do I have to pay taxes on the cancelled mortgage debt?
Update: The Senate Finance Committee has approved a bipartisan bill that would extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act through 2013:https://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/12/business/la-fi-harney-20120812 The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=179414,00.html
The new law no longer requires taxpayers to pay federal income tax on the forgiven debt, provided the property is their principal residence (not an investment property) and the loan was used to buy, build or improve the property. Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act was signed by President Bush in 2007 and extended by President Obama through 2012 called Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The new law eliminates the homeowners liability for paying taxes on the cancelled/ forgiven debt. This Act ensures that any deficiency written off as part of the Short Sale will not be treated as taxable income. It applies to debt reduced through mortgages, refinancing, home equity lines of credit as well as short sales qualify for the examption, if the forgiven debt was used to buy, build, or improve the principal residence. The law applies to debt forgiven in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. The limits are $2 Million for married couples and $1 Million for a single person or married filing separately. Your lender will issue a 1099 form (cancellation of debt) to write off the loss and will report it to the IRS.
Sellers who do not qualify for the above exemption may qualify and claim Insolvency. Basically, you are insolvent when your total debts exceed the total value of your assets. When the debt is cancelled, some or all of the cancelled debt may not be taxable to you, read more:https://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=179414,00.html
*Information and links contained herein are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be treated as legal advice You should speak to a tax professional to determine the amount of tax consequences from the short sale, if any.
Q: Will a Short Sale affect my credit?
A: Yes. Short Sale will actually increase your credit rating/score. The negative points on your credit report are from missed or late mortgage payments. Short Sale is actually credit positive. Many of my short sale seller-clients told me their credit score has increased 50-100 points after the short sale was completed, provided other bills are being paid on time. Short Sales are not reported on a Credit History (Foreclosures are reported on Credit Report ~300 point loss), and stay there for 7-10 years. Foreclosures are public record items, Short Sales are not. Foreclosure is one of the most credit devastating items one could have on their credit report besides bankruptcy. Short Sale settles your mortgage debt on the credit report. There is no specific reporting item for Short Sale on credit reports. Therefore,is usually reported as, settled or paid as agreed on the credit report, with remaining balance: ZERO, which will result in your credit score to go up.
Q: Will I be able to buy another property after the Short Sale and how soon?
A: Yes, but finding a lender may be difficult. FHA or Fannie Mae guidelines may allow you to buy another home immediately, if you were never late on the mortgage. Generally, someone who is late on the mortgage payments and does a short sale, will not qualify for government backed loans for 2-3 years (Fannie Mae: 2 years, FHA: 3 years). You will have to find a small portfolio lender or a group of investors whose loans are not backed by the government, do not sell loans to government and do not have to follow their guidelines. Finding a lender may be difficult but it’s possible.
Q: What is a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure?
A: If you have clear title to your property, which means there are no other mortgages, liens or payments owed, you may be able to release your property to bank – this is called a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
A deed in lieu is a foreclosure alternative. In a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the property owner transfers the deed (ownership rights) to the lender. The homeowner gives the property to the lender voluntarily in exchange for the lender canceling the loan in order to avoid foreclosure. The property is later sold by the lender. The lender may or may not agree to forgive any deficiency balance that results from the sale of the property.
Which one is better, a Deed in Lieu or a Short Sale? A deed in lieu is reported as a foreclosure on your credit report and will ruin your credit. Short Sale is not reported as a foreclosure on your credit and will increase your credit score and improve your credit ratings. Short Sale is a better foreclosure alternative than Deed in Lieu.
Q: Can I do a Short Sale if I have 1st mortgage and the 2nd mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit?
A: Yes. The first lender will offer some money to the 2nd lender (3k-10k). However, in some cases, the 2nd lender may ask for additional funds, that we will negotiate at a substantial discount for the seller. We may also ask the buyer to pay part of the sellers closing costs that the sellers lender does not agree to pay. This is sometimes necessary because the foreclosing lender (1st lender) is usually not willing to share more than $3,000 with the 2nd lender.
Example Short Sale Scenario: Total mortgages are $250,000. The 1st mortgage loan balance is $150,000 from CitiBank which is the foreclosing lender, and the 2nd mortgage loan balance is $100,000 from GMAC. Estimated property market value is $225,000 and the offer is received for $210,000. In the above scenario, you will only need to do the short sale with GMAC as there is enough money to pay off the 1st mortgage from CitiMortgage in full, including the sellers closing costs, estimated at 8% of the purchase price or $16,800. We will notify the foreclosing lender (CitiBank) to stop the foreclosure while we negotiate the short sale pay off with the 2nd lender (GMAC). There is still $43,200 left to the 2nd lender to negotiate a pay off, which is usually more than enough to settle it. If the property cannot be sold for the amount that would pay off the 1st mortgage in full, you will need to obtain the short sale approvals from all lenders involved.
Q: Short Sale Process Overview. How to do a Short Sale?
1.) Homeowner lists the property for sale with a broker at the low end of fair market value.
2.) Buyer sends an offer to the listing agent/broker.
3.) Seller sign/accepts the offer subject to bank approval.
4.) Purchase offer/contract along with supporting short sale documents are sent to bank for approval (note: many lenders require a purchase offer to initiate a short sale)
5.) Bank assigns a negotiator, appraisal is ordered (note: the bank will not respond to any offers until their appraisal is completed)
6.) Bank approves the offer and issues a written short sale approval
7.) Seller and their angent reviews the short sale approval: is the seller fully released from liability to repay the loan? Any cash contributions or promissory notes involved? Is the bank waiving the right to pursue deficiency? Is the bank agreeing to pay the sellers closing costs?
8.) Seller accepts the short sale approval.
9.) Closing is scheduled (note: usually within 30-45 days from bank approval).
10.) Everybody wins: Seller avoided foreclosure, Buyer got a good deal, and Bank received most of their money back.
Q: What forms do I have to sign?
A: You will be asked to sign a listing agreement so we can start marketing your property right away, 3rd party authorization form to share information with your lender(s), write a hardship letter briefly explaining your situation to your lender (samples available), provide some financial information to justify your hardship: bank statements, pay stubs, income tax returns, unemployment benefits, etc.. (forms available). *or a letter of explanation if not available, for example: I dont get any bank statements because I dont have any bank accounts, I don’t get pay stubs because I am self-employed, etc..
Q: Do we need a For Sale sign on the property?
A: It’s up to you but it helps us in marketing your home. Many of our short sale seller clients choose to have a sign displayed. If you choose to have a sign on the property, it will be a regular sign and will not say Short Sale on it.
Q: What are the odds for the short sale approval?
A: There is over 90% chance for the short sale approvals if you only have 1 mortgage and a legitimate financial hardship, and 70-80% chance if you have 2 or more mortgages.
Q: Can the seller live in the property during the Short Sale?
A: Yes. A homeowner can continue to live in the property until the short sale is completed (closing).
Q: Can the Seller profit from the Short Sale?
A: No. Lenders will not allow the seller to profit from the short sale while they are losing money at the same time. The closing settlement (HUD-1) must state: Proceeds to Seller: $0.00. However, some lenders may offer the homeowners some incentives/ moving allowance or relocation assistance for doing the short sale.
Q: Can I short sell the property to a family member?
A: No. A short sale must be an arms-length transaction. The property may not be sold back to the seller or the sellers family member and the seller is not allowed to receive any compensation from the buyer.
Q: Can I do a Short Sale myself (For Sale By Owner)?
A: Banks require the property to be listed with a licensed real estate agent. Banks prefer to work with professional REALTORS specializing in Short Sales to ensure the property receives necessary marketing and proper exposure, instead of dealing directly with unlicensed individuals.
Q: How to Price a Short Sale Property?
A: Pricing a Short Sale property aggressively from the start is the key. The asking price for a Short Sale property should be at the low end of Fair Market Value based on the comparable properties sold in the last 4 months, in the same area. And although there is no standard formula for what the lender will accept on a Short Sale, many lenders have stated that their target price is around 90% of the appraised value. You should price it 10-15% below the projected fair market value based on comparables (CMA). For example: if the CMA for your property comes back at ~$250,000 then the asking price should be ~$225,000 to start with, which should be lowered by about 2% every 1-2 weeks, if necessary. Why not list it at $250,000? Because if you do, you will be competing with regular sellers (not short sales) who can afford to wait 6-12 months for a buyer and can close quickly. Some banks will only give you 90 days to find a buyer for your short sale property and may close your short sale file and pursue other options if the buyer is not found. However, the asking price should not be discounted more than 20% below the projected fair market value because there is a risk the bank will reject the offer.Unless you are running out of time (for example: foreclosure sale/ auction is scheduled for the next week) only then you should price the property way below the market, the idea is to find a buyer/offer quickly before the property is auctioned off.
Cash Investors/ Offers Too Low/ Foreclosure Scam.
Once you miss a couple of mortgage payments, you will start receiving solicitations from investors/ flippers offering you help. Do not do business with any unlicensed individuals or investors promising to save your house from foreclosure. They have their own interest in mind, not yours. Do not accept offers that are substantially below fair market value. Banks are not stupid, they may take 10 to 20% less than the appraised value, but they will not take cents on the dollar. These offers will only tie you up for several months and most likely will be rejected by the bank; consequently you will end up being foreclosed on, as there may not be enough time left to find another buyer. Investors place 100s of low offers on 100s of properties, hoping that 1% or 2% will come back approved. You do not want to be a victim of their scheme.
Q: I owe $300,000 to bank but the house will probably sell for $200,000. Will the bank accept such an offer?
A: We have closed a short sale for $200,000 where the seller owed $350,000 to bank, another one sold for $195,000 where the seller owed over $300,000 to bank. How much the bank will accept, typically has nothing to do with the outstanding loan balance. It is about the value of the real estate today, which is based on bank appraisal or a BPO.
Q: Can I send multiple offers to bank at the same time?
A: No. Most banks allow only one offer to be sent, at a time. The seller selects and accepts/signs the highest and best offer that will be sent to bank for approval. The seller has the right to accept, reject or make a counter-offer to any offer received, so does the bank. If the 1st offer does not work out for whatever reason, we will continue sending other offers until one of them comes back approved and the buyer can close the deal.
Q: My property is in advanced foreclosure, can I still do a Short Sale?
A: Yes. You are the legal owner of the property until the foreclosure is final. You can try to do the short sale even though the property is in advanced foreclosure until the property is sold at auction or goes REO (converts back to the lender), then your redemption period, You would have to miss at least 3 mortgage payments before the bank can initiate foreclosure proceedings against you. Do not wait till the last minute. You should plan ahead and list the property as soon as possible in order to allow extra time for marketing/ collecting offers/ bank review/approvals, and continue showing the property for back-up offers until the primary offer comes back approved by the bank. It’s possible to get the last minute short sale approval from the lender just before the property goes to auction.
Q: Bank changed my locks, what should I do?
A: Change them back. You are the legal owner even though there is a foreclosure pending. Many banks send out asset preservation companies to secure properties that appear to be abandoned, by changing locks, boarding up windows or winterizing the pipes to prevent damage. Contact us and we will check on the foreclosure status to determine if you still own the property or not.
Q: Can I do a Short Sale if I applied for a Loan Modification, Forebearance or filed for Bankruptcy at the same time?
A: Short Sale is designed to get rid of the property while Loan Modification helps you keep the property. You need to decide what you want to do, whether you want to keep the property or not. You should only apply for the Short Sale if you do not intend to keep the property. If you want to keep the property but need some assistance from your lender, you should request a Loan Modification that may lower your interest rate or payments. Short Sale process will be stalled if you apply for a Loan Modification or file for Bankruptcy during the Short Sale.
Q: Should the seller continue paying utilities, cut the grass if the property is vacant?
A: Yes. The homeowner (not the bank nor the listing agent) is responsible for maintaining, securing and preserving the property condition. If your heating gas or electric bills are not getting paid, your property could get severely damaged/ flooded (sump pump will not work), in the winter months (frozen/ burst pipes due to lack of heating).
Q: Does the seller have to go to the closing?
A: No. The seller is not required to attend the closing. The seller can pre-sign the closing docs prior to closing. Closing documents can be mailed to the seller even out of state, including a pre-paid Fedex return envelope provided with detail instructions included.
Q: How much does it cost the Seller to do a Short Sale?
A: Nothing. You will never be asked to pay us any money regardless if the deal closes or not. We will spend countless hours working for you, without any out of pocket expenses to you. We negotiate our fees directly with your lender and are paid by the lender, at closing. You have the right to cancel the listing without any penalty if you are not satisfied with the results.