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Short sale (real estate)
A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the sale proceeds fall short of the balance owed on the property's loan. It often occurs when a borrower cannot pay the mortgage loan on their property, but the lender decides that selling the property at a moderate loss is better than pressing the current debtor. Both parties consent to the short sale process, because it allows them to avoid foreclosure, which involves hefty fees for the bank and poorer credit report outcomes for the borrowers.
In a short sale, the bank or mortgage lender agrees to discount a loan balance because of an economic or financial hardship on the part of the borrower. The home owner/debtor sells the mortgaged property for less than the outstanding balance of the loan, and turns over the proceeds of the sale to the lender. Neither side is "doing the other a favor;" a short sale is simply the most economical solution to a problem. Banks will incur a smaller financial loss than foreclosure or continued non-payment would entail. Borrowers are able to mitigate damage to their credit history, and partially control the debt. A short sale is typically faster and less expensive than a foreclosure. It does not extinguish the remaining balance unless settlement is clearly indicated on the acceptance of offer.
Lenders often have loss mitigation departments that evaluate potential short sale transactions. The majority have pre-determined criteria for such transactions, but they may be open to offers, and their willingness varies. A bank will typically determine the amount of equity (or lack thereof), by determining the probable selling price from an appraisal or Broker Price Opinion (abbreviated BPO or BOV).
Lenders may accept short sale offers or requests for short sales even if a Notice of Default has not been issued or recorded with the locality where the property is located. Given the unprecedented and overwhelming number of losses that mortgage lenders have suffered from the 2009 foreclosure crisis, they are now more willing to accept short sales than ever before. This presents an opportunity for "under-water" borrowers who owe more on their mortgage than their property is worth and are having trouble selling to avoid foreclosure as a result.
Multiple levels of approvals and conditions are very common with short sales. Junior lien-holders - such as second mortgages, HELOC lenders, and HOA (special assessment liens) - may need to approve the short sale. Frequent objectors to short sales include tax lien holders (income, estate or corporate franchise tax - as opposed to real property taxes, which have priority even when unrecorded) and mechanic's lien holders. It is possible for junior lien holders to prevent the short sale. If the lender required mortgage insurance on the loan, the insurer will likely also be party to negotiations as they may be asked to pay out a claim to offset the lender's loss in the short sale. The wide array of parties, parameters and processes involved in a short sale makes it a relatively complex and highly specialized type of real estate transaction. Unsurprisingly, short sale deals have a high failure rate and often do not close in time to prevent foreclosure when they are not handled by a knowledgeable and experienced professional. The best sources of knowledge and expertise in short sales are short sale negotiators, loss mitigation specialists, and real estate lawyers who specialize in short sale.
Short sale success rates vary from state to state and from bank to bank. Bank of America short sales, as of 2009 are still the longest to be approved and have the highest failure rate. Whereas, Citi and banks like Wells Fargo tend to move faster. Smaller "local" banks tend to have their own rules, but will typically approve the short sale in days, not months.
Short sales are different from foreclosures in that a foreclosure is forced by a lender, whereas both lender and borrower consent to a short sale. However, this consent may change at any time, and negotiations may be ongoing between the lender and borrower even while the short sale is on the market. The borrower may decide to remain and refinance their house, or become obstinate and force foreclosure. The bank may renege as well if they decide to stick with the current borrower, or if they disapprove of the sale price. Any short sale contract includes a contingency where the bank must approve the sale.
Changing consent can present a perilous situation for potential buyers. It can waste considerable time and money for a prospective buyer who anticipated a sale. Typically, deposits with the bank will be refunded but money for paid inspections or other services cannot be.
There are several defenses against this. If the seller has moved out of a property, that is a clue that they have no intention of staying or negotiating further with the bank. "Bank Approved Short Sales" are advertised by real estate advertisements, indicating that a real estate broker has verified the selling bank's position. This still does not guarantee acceptance, and it often does not take junior lien-holders into account, but it is better than situations where the bank holding the mortgage has only been lightly involved in the borrower's decision.
Short sales are a type of settlement, and they adversely affect a person's credit report, though the negative impact is typically less than a foreclosure. Like all entries except for bankruptcy, short sales remain on a credit report for seven years. Depending upon other credit information, it is typically possible to obtain another mortgage 1–3 years after a short sale, or less if the borrower is current at the time of the sale.
While lenders sometimes forgive the remaining loan balance, other lien-holders likely will not. Further, it is common for a lender to omit updating mortgage balances zero balance after a short sale. However, willfully misrepresenting information on a credit report can constitute libel in some jurisdictions, and lenders may be sued in civil court for engaging in this behavior.
Short sales are common in standard business transactions in recognition that creditors are not doing debtors a favor but, rather, engaging in a business transaction when extending credit. When it makes no business sense or is economically not feasible to retain an asset, businesses default on their loans (called bonds). It is not uncommon for business bonds to trade on the after-market for a small fraction of their face value in realization of the likelihood of these future defaults.
Lenders have been accused of engaging in fraud during the short sale process. Uncovered by Jeremy Brandt and reported initially by CNBC, the fraud involves lenders in second position demanding kick-backs in the form of cash payments from the home buyer or real estate agent, and that are not disclosed anywhere on closing documents or HUD-1 statement. This is in violation of RESPA rules, which require disclosure of such payments.
- Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 - U. S. legislation affecting short sales of residential property.
- Deed in lieu of foreclosure
- ^ "Short sale (of house)". Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary. http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/short-sale-term.html;jsessionid=221FFE543112BCEC44A8F8DC9B195260.jvm1. Retrieved 29 Sept 2008.
- ^ "CNBC Coverage of Short Sale Fraud". http://www.jeremybrandt.com/media/cnbc-short-sales-bank-fraud/. Retrieved 19 Jan 2010.
- Field Guide to Short Sales. National Association of Realtors. March 2009.
- "Short sale market experiencing growing pains". Tampa Bay Business Journal. March 3, 2008.
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