If you’ve purchased your home within the past few years, it is possible that you owe more than your home is currently worth. For owners who can no longer afford to keep mortgage payments current, there are alternatives to bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings. One of those options is called a “short sale”.
When a lender agrees to do a short sale, it means that the lender is accepting less than the total amount due on their loan. Not all lenders will accept short sales, moreover, not all sellers, nor all properties qualify for short sales.
Sometimes, to avoid going through the costs of foreclosure, a lender will sanction a short sale by letting a buyer purchase your home for less than the mortgage balance.
Consider the following to determine whether you may qualify for a short sale:
The home is worth less than the unpaid balance due the lender. (The value has become less than the amount owed.)
Your mortgage is in default. (Your payments are past due.)
The seller has fallen on hard times. You will be required to submit a hardship letter that explains why you can not pay the balance that will be due on your loan, after the house is sold. You must also explain why you can no longer make your monthly payments.
The lender will want to see a copy of your tax returns to determine if you have any other assets. IE: savings accounts, real estate, stocks, bonds, IRA accounts.
If the lender agrees to the short sale, the lender has the right to issue you a 1099 for the shorted difference, due to a provision in the IRS code about debt forgiveness. You should speak to a real estate lawyer and/or a tax accountant to determine the amount of short sale tax consequences, and whether you can afford to pay those taxes (if any).
A short sale will show up on your credit report as a pre-foreclosure that has been redeemed.
Before you sell on a short sale or go through a foreclosure, seek legal and tax advice. A real estate agent cannot give you legal/tax advice.
A short sale is a complicated transaction and a good real estate agent is the difference between a successful short sale and a foreclosure.
As your Realtor I will price your property to make it attractive to potential buyers as well as acceptable to your lender, help you write the hardship letter, prepare a comparable market analysis and negotiate the sale with the lender, which is the hardest and the most time consuming part of the short sale process.
Your Tarbell, Realtor
Real estate agents, are not licensed as lawyers, nor as a CPAs, and cannot advise on those consequences. Except for certain conditions pursuant to the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, be aware the IRS will consider debt forgiveness as income and there is NO guarantee that a lender who accepts a short sale will not legally pursue a borrower for the difference between the amount owed and amount paid. This is known as a deficiency balance. A real estate lawyer can determine whether your loan qualifies for a deficiency judgment or claim.