A short sale occurs when a property that is underwater, or upside down, is sold. This means the amount a buyer is willing to pay is less than the debt on the home. It has negative equity. The bank must approve of the sale (they are taking a loss), and it is not guaranteed. The process can take many months (our short sales take between 4 and 8 months on average). The homeowner makes no money from a short sale, but there may be relocation assistance. It costs nothing for the homeowner to complete a short sale. All fees and commissions are paid for by the bank and/or buyer. The main advantages to doing a short sale are credit preservation, relocation assistance, and gaining additional time in the home.
Cash for keys, or relocation assistance, is offered by many lenders in short sales, and sometimes in deed in lieu of foreclosure (although deed in lieu is not very common). We apply for the funds during the short sale process and if approved, they are disbursed at the close of escrow. Typical funds are $3000-$10,000. While we do get relocation assistance for a majority of our clients, it is not guaranteed.
There are three benefits for most homeowners. First, one’s credit is preserved. If in default, allowing the property to foreclose is one of the worst things one could have on their credit report. This remains on one’s credit for 7 years. While the impact of a short sale on one’s credit is still negative, it can be less severe than a foreclosure, and to those viewing a credit report (such as employers, landlords, etc) a short sale appears more forgiving than a foreclosure.
Secondly, money can be received via relocation assistance, or cash for keys. This is money issued by the bank. Amounts generally range between $3000-$10,000. It is applied for by during the sales process and is received at the close of escrow, although it is not guaranteed.
Lastly, time is viewed as a benefit for most homeowners since they choose to live in their homes during the 4-8 months (on average) the short sale takes to complete. This saves them on the mortgage, or rent, they would otherwise be paying.
The majority of our short sales take between 4 months and 8 months to complete. Our shortest short sale was 4 months and the longest was 2 years.
The seller’s mortgage lender needs to thoroughly review a seller’s short sale request. Gathering the required documentation and doing bottom-line reviews can take significant time to complete before a short sale is approved. Also, difficult negotiations that take place between the parties involved, such as junior-lien holders and the seller, may delay the process. And lastly, the departments handling short sales at the banks are often understaffed, leading to longer timeframes.
Short sales are like regular, traditional sales in that they end with a normal escrow period; however, that escrow cannot begin until the lender has agreed to approve for the short sale. And that process can involve many steps and many months. The lender usually requires a short sale package to start. This involves homeowner financial documents, listing agreement, and often a purchase agreement. The lender will review all documents and analyze the offer (usually after an appraisal) and return with a response. They may accept the current offer and terms, or counter offer. Each lender can operate a little differently, but everything leads up to a short sale approval. Once issued, escrow can be opened and the contract instructions can be followed, leading up to a closing.
First, the home must be upside. If you have equity than a short sale does not apply (see the Traditional Sale). In the case of most short sale negotiations, the lender will be looking for a statement of hardship from the homeowners which explains why they need relief and more specifically why the homeowners cannot pay the difference still due on the mortgage after the short sale. The lender will request financial documents, similar or the same to a loan modification. They want to be assured that the hardship is legitimate.
“Financial hardship” is a critical part of the short sale equation. No matter what you hear about banks “not being in the business of owning real estate,” they do not easily give homeowners a break. They require good reason to give a discount for a short sale.
The only reason a lender will agree to a short sale is if they determine that a short sale will net them more money than proceeding with the foreclosure. Understanding the homeowner’s financial hardship plays a major role in the lender’s estimation of whether or not the mortgage will be paid in full. Lenders may make the borrower pay the shortfall if there is no hardship.
The following is typically required for a short sale: Hardship Statement, Statement of Income/Assets,Tax Returns, Appraisal/Comparative Market Analysis, Listing Agreement and Purchase Agreement.
Banks look for different elements to approve a short sale, but perhaps the biggest motivator is whether the bank will make more money by granting a short sale over pursuing foreclosure. Often, the bank won’t disclose these internal discussions.
The commissions are paid from the funds the buyer places in escrow. Since there is no equity in the house, the lender ultimately is the one paying the entire sales commission.
You do a short sale with two loans the same way as a short sale with 3 or more loans/liens. Individually negotiate. Typically, the lender in first position will allocate a small percentage of proceeds to junior lienholders. However, borrowers can also be asked to make a seller contribution.
Selling a property by short sale will cause a hit on the sellers’ credit report and in many cases the affect on credit and FICO scores could be the same as a foreclosure. However, to many people viewing a credit report, such as a potential landlord, a short sale is often more forgiving, or appears better, than a foreclosure. The good news for short sale sellers is that in most circumstances the wait involved before qualifying for a loan to buy another home is much shorter than if a foreclosure occurs.
Yes, because in a short sale, the mortgage lender will be receiving less than amount the borrower owes on the mortgage. The lender needs to verify that the homeowner cannot continue to pay the mortgage and determine if a short sale is better than foreclosing on the property.
Because of the complex nature of a short sale transaction, it is strongly recommended that buyers work with a real estate professional who has a track record in successful short sales. With the experience and connections, such an agent should be able to identify and help resolve possible hurdles, help put together a viable offer, protect the buyer’s interests, and negotiate the best deal. Plus, a licensed broker will be required by the bank.
Short sale approved is a term that some people in the real estate industry use to describe a short sale the has gone through much of the process (and time), to reach a stage where the bank has accepted a particular price.
Most homeowners do not spend any extra money or effort improving their homes when doing a short sale. And why would they? Homeowners make no money from the sale, and it is not required. Sometimes there are home issues that need to be addressed, especially regarding safety and habitability, but if repairs are required they are usually negotiated for the bank or buyer to pay.
Homes sold as short sale usually sell for less than traditional sales. Sometimes they sell for slightly less and other times they sell for significantly less. This is partly due to the fact that buyers must endure a much longer timeframe and uncertainly when buying a short sale, and for that they are compensated with a discount.
The difference between the total mortgage debt and the sales price is known as the “deficiency”. In some states lenders can pursue a deficiency judgment against the debtor, but most foreclosures in California are non-judicial and banks cannot get a deficiency judgment after a nonjudicial foreclosure. Additionally, California law generally prohibits a deficiency judgment following a short sale of residential homes.
So, the lender cancels the debt, but this canceled debt should be included on IRS taxes. There are a few different ways that homeowners typically resolve this canceled debt as a non-taxable event: insolvency at the time of the short sale, non-recourse loans, and bankruptcy. It is best to consult with a qualified CPA or tax attorney for advice.