In real estate, a short sale refers to the sale of a property in which the sale price is insufficient to pay off all encumbrances and pay the expenses of sale. If the lender is convinced that the owner, for various reasons, is unable to continue making the payments the lender will often agree to take less than the full amount owed to allow the sale to close escrow. The incentive for the bank to approve a short sale is to have the property sell before the loan becomes a problem account on their books.
This Process may be difficult to believe but it is a definite possibility. As stated below there are hoops to jump through. Banks are willing to allow individuals to assume the loan if they meet the required criteria. This is a system that works because the banks do not want to hold property for one but they also do not want to pay a fee in order to send the property through the foreclosure process.
Homeowners who are in the pre-foreclosure process need to speak with an educated agent as quickly as possible. For many homeowners foreclosure is not the only option however most do not get the opportunity to explore solutions. By dealing with as agent who has earned the Certified Distressed Property Expert Designation (CDPE) designation, homeowners ensure that they are working with a real estate professional that is equipped to handle their specific needs.
Before a lender approves a short sale they will make two key decisions. First, can the owner afford to continue making the payments on the property? If they can there is no reason for the bank to eat the loss. Banks will not look favorably upon a borrower that they determine lied to get the loan.
Second, will approving the short sale leave the bank in relatively the same position as they are likely to be in by going though the foreclosure process and then selling the property? If the bank can do significantly better by foreclosing they are likely to do so.
The seller must not receive any sale proceeds for themselves.
If there is a junior lienholder, the discounts can be substantial, sometimes as high as 90% or more. Question two is the primary determinant here. If the senior lender forecloses the junior may get nothing so they may take a deep discount to get something out of the property.
Short sale sellers need to be careful because there is no free lunch. The seller may end up with taxable income in the amount of the debt that is forgiven. We advise that you speak to a CPA regarding tax consequences, whether it be a short sale or a foreclosure.
It is advised anyone facing foreclosure to discuss their situation with an experienced Realtor. Short Sales are not a part of real estate basic training but there are a number of educational seminars a Realtor can take to get up to speed. Lenders will pay a reasonable selling commission so Realtors have an incentive to get involved in Short Sale situations.
The basic requirements for a Short Sale are a Listing Agreement with a Realtor and a Sales Contract from a Buyer which are submitted to the Lender along with a Hardship Letter from the Seller explaining why they cannot continue to pay the mortgage and supporting documents such as tax returns, bank statements, information and photos of the home and the Comps, or comparative home prices supporting the offer.
The way mortgages are sold, the mortgage holder can be anywhere and certainly not aware of local real estate conditions. If the package is complete, the Lender will order a BPO, or Broker's Price Opinion, from an independent Realtor. Ths BPO is the key to the whole process. If it is too high, the Lender will not accept a low offer. Your Realtor can meet with the Agent doing the BPO and offer information supporting the offer, such as the average time on market of comparable homes, recent selling prices and point out any defects in the home. Most Lenders will accept an offer lower than the BPO, but usually not much more than 10% lower, though that will vary depending on the company.
The sales contract should specifically state that the offer is contingent on the Lender accepting the purchase price in full and forgiving the Seller the deficiency on the mortgage. Yes, there can be tax consequences. The Seller does receive a 1099 on the forgiven part of the mortgage, but there are provisions in the tax code for the offset of the phantom income due to insolvency. Most Short Sellers will satisfy the insolvency requirements or the Lender would not be allowing the Short Sale in the first place.
The process does all take time and Lenders are swamped, expect at least 4-6 months before a sale can be finalized, even if the Lender accepts the first offer. If they do not, the price can be negotiated.
The Short Sale is a detailed but fairly straightforward process that can work to benefit Buyer, Seller and even the Lender. The Buyer gets a good price on a home, the Seller gets to avoid the disruption and credit hit of a foreclosure and the Lender avoids the delay and expense of foreclosing on a property they don't want to own and that would negatively impact their ability to make more loans.
Navigating Short Sales: What to Do When the Sale Price Leaves You Short
If you're thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won't cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don't have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.
1. Consider loan modification first. If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as:
When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if
2. Hire a qualified team. A qualified real estate professional can:
3. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in. Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include
4. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period. Even if you're well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:
When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)
5. Don't expect a short sale to solve your financial problems. Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.