Today’s ever changing real estate industry has brought upon some very challenging questions from our clients. We as counselors, want to put forth the best, non-emotional advice that we can, in hopes that we can help our clients and their families navigate the rough waters of the short sale process.
The most prevalent question and one that continues to permeate the industry is:
“Why should a seller go through the short sale process rather than letting their house be foreclosed upon?”
While we cannot speak to every client circumstance, we can say one thing with complete conviction. In almost all instances in which a potential seller is contemplating whether they should short sell their house or let it go through the foreclosure process, a short sale is the better option. The following are examples to consider:
Example A- Short Sale
Mr. Smith owns a home in which he has a mortgage balance of $220,000 and a current market value of $150,000. Mr. Smith has elected to short sell his property. His Realtor successfully obtains a buyer who puts forth an offer price of $120,000 (80% current market value according to Realty Trac Foreclosure Report 5/26/2011). After reviewing the buyers offer and the financial hardship information from Mr. Smith, Mr Smith’s bank agrees to accept the short payoff of $120,000 which would leave a deficiency balance of $100,000.
The transaction closes and is final. Mr. Smith then pulls his credit report 30 days after the transaction takes place. On the report he notices that the mortgage trade line states “Mortgage debt was settled for less than full” and the balance on the mortgage is $0. Mr. Smith is now on the road to financial recovery.
Example B- Foreclosure
For the ease of illustration we will use the same value and mortgage debt amounts as in Example A. However, Mr. Smith has elected to forgo the short sale process and let the bank foreclose on the property. The bank holding his mortgage facilitates the proper legal procedures to foreclose on the property, all of which are costly. Mr. Smith is notified and his property foreclosed upon of which is taken back by the bank to sell as an REO.
Six months later, the bank finally sells Mr. Smith’s home only they sell it for $90,000 (60% of current market value according to Realty Trac Foreclosure report dated 5/26/2011). Remember, as a short sale, the home would have sold for $120,000 keeping the deficiency to $100,000. In addition to the deficiency now being $130,000, the bank has elected to add on legal costs of $15,000 and asset preservation costs of another $5000 for a total deficiency liability of $150,000. Mr. Smith pulls his credit report 30 days after being notified that the bank has sold his property and of his liability.
On the report he notices that the mortgage trade line states “Foreclosure” and the balance is $150,000. Because of Mr Smith’s choice to choose foreclosure vs. short sale his road to financial recovery has taken a major detour. He not only has a foreclosure on his credit report but now has a much larger deficiency balance in which the bank, in most cases, will report on his credit report as a balance owed.
The Best Option is Clear
While the financial and credit advantages are clear when choosing a short sale over a foreclosure, other advantages are sometimes overlooked. The most important of all of them is maintaining the seller’s dignity and peace of mind. We have heard too many stories of families having to leave their homes because of a Sheriff’s order or some other type of legal action. The short sale process alleviates this negative social impact. The process puts the control back in the seller’s hands so that they can get back on the road to financial recovery and start providing for their families. In the battle of the two evils, a short sale always wins!!!