Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is a "Short Sale"

Dear Rich,

My wife and I bought a home in Charlotte about 2 years ago and we now have to move. I was laid off last month, and I think we will have to move in with family until I am able to get a decent job put some money away. I have missed two mortgage payments already and it was hard to pay the mortgage even when I was working--we bit off more than we could chew and had no safety net...

A friend of mine recommended a "short sale." What is a "short sale" and how would it benefit me to sell my house this way?

Ben R. Charlotte

Dear Ben,

I am sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, it is all too common in the current economy. But not to worry, you do have options.

A short sale may be the way to go, but this is something you will have to discuss candidly with your Realtor.

A short sale is what happens when the proceeds of a real estate sale fall short of the balance owed on the property--when the offer on the table is less than what you owe. In a short sale, the mortgage lender, (or bank) agrees to accept a discount of the balance due the current owner's financial hardship, (i.e. in the case of a lost job).

The negotiation of a short sale is done through bank's loss mitigation department, with the home owner, and often the seller's real estate agent.

The home owner is the allowed to sell the mortgaged property for less than the outstanding balance of the loan, and the bank forgives the loan in exchange for the total of the sale proceeds. In this case, the lender has the right to approve or disapprove of a proposed sale--they want to get the most they can for the mortgage, but also know that in many cases the deal offered is a good business decision.

Often the borrower will still owe some amount above and beyond the sale and the home seller will have to make this difference up.

Generally, short sales happen when there are extenuating circumstances, and the real estate market is in such a state, that the lender does not feel that they will otherwise profit, or make back their investment.

The biggest advantages for you would include avoiding a foreclosure on your credit history, and a short sale is typically faster and less expensive than a foreclosure.

I hope that this answers your questions, and my best wishes for a happier and more prosperous 2009.

Rich Ferretti
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