Selling Your Home on a Short Sale
Want to know the basic about short sales? Our office specializes in these transactions and offers free consultation on what you can expect from this alternative to foreclosure.
There are actually other alternatives but Short Sales may be your best option if you are facing foreclosure and/or can no longer afford your payments. We negotiate with the Bank.
Q: What is a short sale?
A: A short sale is an alternative to foreclosure. Simply put, it is when a lender will agree to accept an amount which is less than what is actually owed on the property.
A short sale is a normal(actually nothing "normal" about a short sale) purchase and sale transaction, however the lender is receiving a payoff which is "short" of the total amount owed. Hence, the term "short sale".
Q: Can anyone qualify to short sale their house?
A: No. We spend countless hours a week advising individuals about short sales and this is the first question they typically get wrong.
Your bank must approve you for a short sale. In sum, you must qualify or be able to clearly demonstrate that you are suffering a financial hardship.
A financial hardship is not just being upside down on your house. A financial hardship can be met in a number of ways and each lender is different on what they deem to be a true financial hardship.
Your bank"s loss mitigation department will require you to submit numerous documents, in which they will review and determine whether or not you have a financial hardship.
Q: Does a closed short sale mean that I am protected and that the bank cannot pursue a collection against me for the difference, or more commonly referred to as a deficiency?
A: No. This is the second question that most people get wrong. This is yet another reason why it is so vital to have an experienced real estate attorney work with your seller.
This critical aspect of a short sale gets lost in the mix in many closings where an attorney is not involved.
My office is currently working with a number of clients that are being sued for deficiencies, even though they sold their house via a short sale. Scary but true.
Q: How can a distressed homeowner afford to hire an attorney if they can"t even pay their mortgage(s)?
A: Good question and there is hope. Most banks will contribute towards attorneys" fees at the successful completion of a short sale. Therefore, we can keep up-front fees reasonable.
Q: How long does the process take?
A: This is the one of the major problems with short sales. Even with a very efficient system, these transactions can take months to get closed.
There are various reasons why but the most obvious is that the banks are overwhelmed and simply cannot keep up with the number of requests they are getting.
This is another reason why sellers and buyers should use an experienced short sale team (realtor and real estate attorney).
Individuals who do not have experience handling and successfully closing short sales have very little chance to get their deals closed.
Q: Does my seller have to pay taxes on the difference between what is actually owed and what the bank nets?
A: Sorry for the typical lawyer answer, but it depends. We always advise our clients to consult with an accountant, bankruptcy attorney and credit repair company prior to retaining our services.
Nonetheless, a quick answer is that primary residences are typically exempt from paying taxes on the difference.
This law was changed a few years ago to assist primary homeowners who are defaulting on their mortgages.
On the other hand, investment or second home owners will most likely be liable for taxes on the difference.
Q: Will they stop the foreclosure process if I apply for a short sale and have an interested buyer?
A: No. This is the third misconception (if we are counting). In most cases if not all, they will do just the opposite.
It is always the goal to complete and close your short sale before the bank completes its foreclosure.
If this does not happen and the bank wins the race, well then the obvious happens. Your seller has been foreclosed on and will have a large judgment against them.
Q: Can they hire you to defend the foreclosure?
A: It depends (sorry). Attorneys can of course represent and defend a foreclosure for your seller, but only if he/she has viable defenses to the lawsuit.
Q: Is it worth attempting a short sale if you have already been served with foreclosure papers?
A: Yes. Lenders foreclose because it is one of the few remedies they actually have. Trust me, it is quite possibly the last thing they want to do in this market.
Why? Well, because most properties being foreclosed on these days are upside down in value. In simple terms, the bank is owed more than what the house can sell for.
In addition, most banks buy the property back at the foreclosure sale (because the highest bidder at the foreclosure sale would have to pay off their mortgage(s) which is highly unlikely).
The bank would then obtain title to the property and be forced to sell it for the best possible price.
Well that is exactly what we are trying to do for them and by the time they get to sell the property, they have lost more money in rehabbing and lost time.
In sum, they want you to sell the property so they don't have to do it themselves.
Q and A from the Law Offices of Anthony W. Surber, P.A.
4809 Ehrlich Road, Suite 102
Tampa, Florida 33624
O (813) 908-6800
F (813) 908-6830