Posted by: Gay Potter | June 13, 2009

Gay Potter speaks about Short Sales, Loan Modification, Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure and MORE!


Here is the 411 on Short Sales – the short version – if there is such a thing!

What is a short sale?
A short sale, also known as a short pay or short payoff, allows a homeowner to sell their property for less than the amount owned to the bank.  When the market value of the property is less than the amount owed, the owner is considered up-side-down. The proceeds from the sale are used to pay-off the outstanding amount of the mortgage. Although the proceeds will be “short” amount actually owed on the mortgage, it allows a homeowner the opportunity to avoid foreclosure. Ultimately it may put their credit standing in a better position than if an actual foreclosure were to take place. The entire process hinges on the approval of the lender to accept less than the amount due.

What are the credit implications to a short sale?

The hit homeowners take on their credit score is much less on a short sale than on a foreclosure. image A homeowner involved in a short sale will see an 80 to 100 point drop on his or her credit score. A foreclosure is a 250 to 280 point hit. This is only an estimate, each individual case may vary.

What information will the bank need to decide whether to accept a short sale?
The sellers’ submission package should include W-2 forms from employers (or a letter explaining the seller is unemployed), bank statements, two years of tax returns, and other financial documents outlining income and debt obligations. The bank will also need comps or a broker’s price opinion showing your estimate of value.   In addition, the sellers should submit a “hardship letter,” explaining the circumstances that make it impossible for them to pay the full amount of the loan. The seller needs to be able to show true financial hardship. Someone with the assets or the income to pay is unlikely to be considered.

How should the property be priced in a short sale?
In general, most short sale experts say to price the property at or near fair market value. The current market value in the Vally of Sun varies greatly depending on the location.


How long does it take to complete a short sale?
Although response times vary from lender to lender, it can take two weeks or as long as 180 days to receive an approval of a short sale from a lender. That’s whimagey it’s critical that buyers and their representative understand and accept that time frame before they make an offer.   

See my previous post of short sale time frames! 

What can the seller and I do to make a short sale more attractive to a lender?
Getting a lender to approve a short sale is primarily a question of economics. You have to provide hard numbers to show that the amount of money a bank will realize on the short sale is better than the amount it may recoup from foreclosing on the property and selling the property.

A 2002 study by Craig Focardi of the Tower Group estimated that the entire cost of a foreclosure was $58,759 and took 18 months. Other factors that can influence a bank’s decision include the liability risk it assumes by owning the property after foreclosures, the money tied up during the holding period for a foreclosure and REO resale, additional costs associated with an REO such as attorneys’ fees, and the additional reserves it will need if REO’s rise in the bank’s portfolio.

What are the seller’s options if a short sale is rejected by the lender?
There are a variety of reasons a bank will reject a short sale — from too low a price to too many files on the loss mitigation’s desk. You can look for another buyer or even try resubmitting the same contract. Banks don’t want to take properties back in foreclosure, so they are going to do everything they can to make it work. Keep in mind that throughout the process there’s the possibility of foreclosure.

What tax liabilities will a seller have as a result of a short sale? image
One often overlooked aspect of short sales is that a seller must count any amount forgiven by the lender as income and pay taxes on that income, even if no actual money was received. The IRS requires lenders to submit a Form 1099 stating the forgiven amount. Sellers who meet the Internal Revenue Service definition of insolvency (either in bankruptcy or with debts exceeding assets w/o bankruptcy) will not have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount. See IRS Form 982 for this exclusion. Each individual tax situation may vary. Ask your CPA for all details.

Note: Investors – please review your specific circumstance with a CPA or real estate attorney.

What is ? (Signed by the President on 12/19/07)

image It states the following: H.R. 3648 would exclude from the gross income of a taxpayer any income by reason of discharge, either in whole or in part, of debt on the taxpayers’ principal residence. Such debt may include the initial loans to acquire, construct, or substantially improve the residence as well as any refinancing of debt to the extent the refinancing does not exceed the amount of the refinanced indebtedness. The exclusion from gross income would apply to discharges of indebtedness on or after January 1, 2007. Simply put, the 1099C would be a forgiven amount and should be professionally handled by a CPA.

What are the options besides a short sale?
Many lenders are more willing to offer loan modification options. Lender’s can extend the term of the loan, add on delinquent payments to the loan principal, and/or reduce the interest rate to make the loan more manageable for the home owner. Another option is a repayment plan that requires home owners to increase their monthly payments until the loan is current. 

Loan Resolution (Loss Mitigation) Options for You:

Repayment Plan:

Distributes the owner’s delinquent payments over a period of time, usually no more than 10 months. The monthly amount is added to the usual mortgage payment. Brings the account up-to-date within a specified time-frame. With a goal in sight, the owner can move forward knowing that the home is secure.

Forbearance Plan:

An agreement to temporarily allow a homeowner to pay less that the actual amount due on their mortgage or it will suspend payments entirely the forbearance period. More commonly associated with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, and VA. Each has various requirements a homeowner must meet, it is very situation specific so the homeowner should contact the lender directly to see if forbearance is an option. The goal is to put the homeowner back on track to resume full regular payments.

Loan Modification:

Applies any past-due interest and escrow amounts to the unpaid principal balance, which is then re-amortized over a new term. Changes over a new term. Changes to mortgage note itself, giving the owner a fresh start on managing their loan. Brings the account up-to-date immediately. There are many requirements; the homeowner must contact the servicing lender for details of their individual circumstances.

is a the perfect qualifier to determine whether you and your property qualifies for a modification.


Partial Claim (only for FHA loans):

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) advances a loan to repay the past-due interest and escrow amounts. HUD loan is interest-free. Brings the account up-to-date immediately.

Short Sale:

Allows the owner to sell the home and use the proceeds to pay off the mortgage if they are unable to maintain payments, even if the home’s market value is less than the total amount owed. Avoids the lengthy legal process involved in foreclosure. Generally less damaging to the credit rating than foreclosure. 

* Please ask me how I negotiate: If the short sale “offer” is accepted, the lender must report to the credit bureaus, “Paid in Full.”

                                      Short Sale Specialist                                           Please contact me to discuss your short sales needs.                                 480-694-1172 or email

FHA Pre-Foreclosure/Short Sale Requirements:

The property is owner-occupied or reasonable circumstances exist if it is not. The loan is at least 2 months delinquent. The house can sell within 3 to 5 months. A new appraisal (obtained by your lender) shows that the value of your home meets HUD program guidelines. It has been reported that FHA does not allow for short sales, which is inaccurate, FHA does allow them.

Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure:

Allows the owner to transfer the property voluntarily to the servicing bank if the seller is unable to maintain payments and cannot sell the home at market value. Avoids the lengthy legal process involved in foreclosure. May be less damaging to the credit rating than foreclosure (this option is a foreclosure and will be reported as such).

Final comments on your credit;

It would be a good idea to ask for the lenders policy on reporting short sales to the credit bureaus. Many lenders consider 90 day past due to be a foreclosure whether or not the property was formally sold by the bank. The loan will show on the credit report as “Paid,” however, in most cases it will also note, “Settled for less than amount owed.” Depending on how far behind on payments a borrower gets, it may also reflect as “Pre-foreclosure” on the credit report. *

Be Aware of Predatory “Rescue” Scams:

Such as, loans with high interest rates affordable repayment terms, loan assumptions where you are not released from liability on the loan or offers to repay the loan or sell the property if you sign over the legal deed. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

As a REALTOR®, I am not licensed as a lawyer or a CPA and cannot advise on all matters of the short sale process.  Please obtain advice from a competent real estate lawyer on legal issues and discuss with your accountant on the tax ramifications that may be unique to your specific situation.

The foregoing is for informational purposes only and is not intended as definitive legal advice.  You should not act upon this information without seeking independent legal and tax council.



  1. […] Short sales, loan modifications, deed in lie of foreclosure and more – Gay Potter runs down short sales, loan mods and other options and explains the […]

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