Friday, August 1, 2008

How Does Short Sales Work

The short sale is simple in theory. You owe more than the home is worth or you can no longer pay the mortgage payments so in order to sell without bringing money to the table yourself you must convince the bank that you have a financial hardship and cannot make the payments. The bank may then agree to take a lower payoff than the total loan amount. Example: if you owe $350,000 but can only sell for $300,000 then the bank will be "forgiving" $50,000 in debt. But, at least you've sold the home and avoided foreclosure. In practice, the short sale usually isn't that simple. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. A short sale package must be put together to show bank hardship, inability to pay, the homes value, repairs, net to the bank after sale etc. It will be the bank's decision whether or not to accept or reject an offer. The bank will have the final say over any offer you accept because the offer will be less than your loan payoff. Banks can take their time with a decision but I think that many banks will be speeding up the process as time goes on and they get their loss mitigation departments up to speed. If you are able to make your mortgage payments you probably should. However, the bank will usually not consider a short sale as an option until you've already missed a couple payments. But, those missed payments will show up as late payments on your credit report so, the fewer there are the better. Before putting your house on the market have your agent check what other properties are SELLING for in your area (In other words make sure your agent do a Market analysis for your area). Not what they are "on the market" for but selling for. Start there and lower your price quickly until you get an offer. Remember you are under a time constraint if you want to avoid foreclosure. The key thing is to get an offer. Once you have one you'll at least have something to work with even if it is low. Keep in mind that a short sale will have less of a negative impact than a foreclosure will on your credit. The consensus is that a short sale will cost you around 100 points on your credit score while a foreclosure will cost you 200-280 points and stay on your credit report much longer. So, pursue the short sale aggressively to avoid a foreclosure. Another thing you should be aware of are the tax consequences. You may end up owing taxes on the amount of debt that is forgiven. There are ways you may be able to avoid the tax. If you can show you were insolvent at the time of the sale then the IRS may exclude the debt forgiveness from taxation. Take a look at section 108 of the IRS Code and form 982. You might want to consult with an attorney or accountant that is familiar with the process because it could end up saving you on your taxes.

How to Write a Short Sale Hardship Letter
The Hardship Letter is part of the short sale package and is written by the seller or their representative. It is used to explain to the lender the reasons for the borrower's need for a short sale. Reasons such as divorce, job loss, medical issues, etc. can and should be included. Usually just a one page letter with the pertinent information will suffice.

A simple letter in the following form should suffice:

DateLender NameAddressLoan NumberDear Sir/Mama,{In this section explain your hardship and why you must utilize a short sale - some example hardship reasons are listed below}

  • Unemployment
  • Reduced Income
  • Divorce
  • Medical Bills
  • Too Much Debt
  • Death of my Spouse
  • Death of a family member
  • Payment Increase
  • Business Failure
  • Job Relocation
  • Illness
  • Damage to Property
  • Military Service
  • Other (Please Specify)
Borrower’s SignatureDateCo-Borrower’s SignatureDate

Please contact CENTURY 21 ATLANTA GA Real Estate agent for more details.