However, if you do have to sell your home you basically have three options. First, you can bring cash to the table. In the example above you would sell your home for $250,000 and pay another $10,000 to the lender out of your pocket to pay off the loan on your property. Second, you could let the home go into foreclosure. The lender will go through the foreclosure process, force you out of your home and then auction it off to the highest bidder at a foreclosure or Trustee's auction. The third option is to pursue a short sale. You (or you real estate agent/short sale specialise) contact the lender, explain the circumstances and convince them to take less than full value of their loan.
While most lenders will not be thrilled at the prospect of a short sale they are acutely aware that a foreclosure is usually a far more time consuming and costly option. In a real estate market where housing values are going down it is in the best interests of the lender to liquidate their problem loans as quickly as possible.
With a short sale a property can be sold and the loan taken off their books fairly quickly. If they pursue a foreclosure they run the risk of the process taking a substantial amount of time during which the value of the property is depreciating. Also, buyers will tend to write low ball offers when they know that a bank or lending institution owns the property. The property will also be left vacant which can result in vandalism and deterioration. Some owners will even gut the house just before the foreclosure sale as a way to 'get back' at the lender. This is illegal but nonetheless happens on occasion. So, you can see why a lender might want to go the short sale route and get the loan off of their books with minimal hassle.
Short sales are not necessarily complicated but do require some work on your part and your agent's part.
All of the documentation needed to start a short sale is commonly called a "Short Sale Package" and is usually submitted either by us or yourself directly. The package usually includes the following items:
Sample Short Sale Package (items may vary depending upon the lender):
Many homeowners do not realize that they may be in store for a large tax bill from the IRS after the short sale of their home. Every situation is different and you should absolutely contact an accountant or tax advisor before conducting a short sale to determine your potential liability.
As an example assume you purchased your home for $400,000 in 2003. Since that time it has appreciated to $500,000 and you refinanced and now owe $450,000. You need to sell your home now but due to the bad market you can only get $400,000 for it. Your lender accepts a short sale since you owe them $450,000 but they are accepting only $400,000. The IRS considers the $50,000 that was "forgiven" by the lender as "debt relief" income.
Your lender will probably send you a 1099-C in the amount of $50,000 and the IRS will want you to pay taxes on that amount. What are the odds that you have that kind of money laying around after you just went through a short sale on your home? Be very careful regarding your tax obligations BEFORE you consider a short sale, deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure or foreclosure.
The IRS will use your tax basis on your property to determine your tax obligations so you must be able to figure this amount out.
See the information we have on IRS Form 982. The form is used to request a "reduction in tax attributes" due to insolvency. This may allow you to avoid having to pay taxes on the debt relief you experience with a short sale. We strongly encourage you to talk to a tax attorney or accountant about this!
The Hardship Letter is usually part of the short sale package and is written by the seller. 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:Date
The credit consequences of a short sale and foreclosure vary slightly. The general consensus is that a short sale will show up on your credit report as a 'settlement', 'settlement for less than owed' or a "pre-foreclosure in redemption". Also, since most lenders will not consider allowing a short sale until a few payments have actually been missed you may also have a few 'lates' on your credit report. Neither of these marks is a good thing to have but it's possible to get them off of your credit report within a few years or less. A short sale can drop your credit score by 80-100 points. There is also the possibility that through negotiation with the lender you can avoid having the short sale reported to a credit agency.
A foreclosure on your credit report can take 7-10 years to remove and can cost your credit rating (FICO) up to 200-280 points which is a very big hit.
Most large lenders have loss mitigation departments that those facing a short sale or foreclosure situation will need to contact. Below is a list of phone numbers for a number of those lenders and servicing companies. If your lender is not listed below, call the number on your mortgage statement and ask to speak with someone in the Loss Mitigation Department.
Can Obama's plan help you? Well, let's look at it's main components:
First, the Obama administrations loan modification plan focuses on payments, not prices. They assume that home owners will want to stay in their homes as long as they can make the monthly payment regardless of the value of their home. This may or may not be the case. Evidence has shown that some homeowners will walk away from their homes even if they could make the payment only because the value of their home has fallen far below what it was once worth.
Second, Obama's loan modifcation program requires loan servicers to lower the borrower's monthly payments to no more than 38 percent of the borrower's gross monthly income. The federal government would then subsidize a portion of the payment so that the borrower would only be paying 31 percent of their gross monthly income. Obama's plan does not require loan servicers to reduce the pricipal amount of the loan. The servicer can reduce the interest rate to as low as 2 percent, extend the loan to a 40 year amortization, or forbear a part of the pricipal at no interest. So, if these terms would help you stay in your homne then you should take a serious look at the Obama Loan Modification Program.
Why would loan servicers want to participate in this program? Well, for one, they will get $1000 for every modification plus an additional $1000 each year for up to three years if the borrower continues to make the payments on the loan. The borrower too can get up to $1000 knocked off of their loan principal each year for up to five years if they make their payment s on time.
Of course, in the Obama Loan Modification Program only owner-occupied primary residences will be considered and only those with loan balances less than $729,750. Applicants will have to sign an affidavit of financial hardship and verify their income and only loans originated on or before January 1, 2009 will be eligible for the program.
So, does the Obama Loan Modification Program sound like it could help you? If so, then give your lender or loan servicer and call and see if you qualify.