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July 14th, 2009

Beware If You’re Considering a Short Sale

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Even just a few years ago short sales were a widely unused practice; the state of the marketplace didn’t call for it. However, as falling home prices, massive waves of foreclosures, and unemployment cripple today’s real estate market, short sales have jumped to the front of the line. But since the practice has become so popular, lenders are beginning to change the rules in their favor:

The rising tide of “short sales” by troubled home owners facing foreclosure is prompting lenders to become more aggressive in their attempts to pursue former homeowners for their loan losses in a short sale. In a short sale, a house is sold, with a lender’s approval, for an amount that won’t pay off the mortgage on the property.

Often, the troubled home owner assumes the loss will be eaten by the lender. But Bank of America and Chase have quietly added language in their short-sale agreements that require the borrower to sign a promissory note for the shortfall [or portions of the shortfall].

The advantage of a short sale is that a homeowner can avoid, what has been described as, “a credit-killing foreclosure.” Granted, homeowners may be able to avoid a foreclosure, but as California’s North County Times reported back in late April, they may be opening the door to lawyers, collection agencies and mountains of debt:

Lenders appear to be inserting language into short sale contracts that allow them to sue for any “deficiency,” or the amount lost by a bank by selling a home for less than the mortgage —- opening the door to collection agencies and court judgments that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for some North County homeowners.

What’s more, the nation’s premier credit scoring firm says that short sales and foreclosures are equally damaging to credit scores.

The new language has become so widespread that one California real estate agent said 50% of his short sale contracts had the language included. However, once the agent noticed the new language, he did have some success in getting it removed just by asking. The general consensus seems to be that lenders will remove the language if asked, but there are no guarantees. Calculated Risk suggests “having a lawyer review the contract, and make sure ‘all loans are extinguished and debts forgiven’.”

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4 Responses to “Beware If You’re Considering a Short Sale”

  1. Business credit cards Says: July 17th, 2009 at 5:05 am

    short sales are one’s loss and another’s gain! One needs to be cautious while dealing with short sales-never the less, it has it’s own advantages too.
    BC Cards

  2. Prosper Home For Sale…Short Sale That Is | DFW Real Estate & Homes Says: October 1st, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    [...] Beware If You’re Considering a Short Sale (hsh.com) [...]

  3. Jack Says: December 31st, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  4. Tim Manni Says: January 4th, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks Jack!

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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