Navigating Short Sales: What to Do When the Sale Price Leaves You Short

If you’re thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won’t cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don’t have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.

1. Consider loan modification first. If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as:

  • Refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate
  • Providing a different payment plan to help you get caught up
  • Providing a forbearance period if your situation is temporary

When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if

  • Your property is worth less than the total mortgage you owe on it.
  • You have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or major medical bills.
  • You have contacted your lender and it is willing to entertain a short sale.

2. Hire a qualified team. The first step to a short sale is to hire a qualified real estate professional* and a real estate attorney who specialize in short sales. Interview at least three candidates for each and look for prior short-sale experience. Short sales have proliferated only in the last few years, so it may be hard to find practitioners who have closed a lot of short sales. You want to work with those who demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the short-sale process and who won’t try to take advantage of your situation or pressure you to do something that isn’t in your best interest.

A qualified real estate professional can:

  • Provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) or broker price opinion (BPO).
  • Help you set an appropriate listing price for your home, market the home, and get it sold.
  • Put special language in the MLS that indicates your home is a short sale and that lender approval is needed (all MLSs permit, and some now require, that the short-sale status be disclosed to potential buyers).
  • Ease the process of working with your lender or lenders.
  • Negotiate the contract with the buyers.
  • Help you put together the short-sale package to send to your lender (or lenders, if you have more than one mortgage) for approval. You can’t sell your home without your lender and any other lien holders agreeing to the sale and releasing the lien so that the buyers can get clear title.

3. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in. Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include

  • A hardship letter detailing your financial situation and why you need the short sale
  • A copy of the purchase contract and listing agreement
  • Proof of your income and assets
  • Copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two years

4. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period. Even if you’re well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:

  • If you have only one mortgage, the review can take about two months.
  • With a first and second mortgage with the same lender, the review can take about three months.
  • With two or more mortgages with different lenders, it can take four months or longer.

When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)

5. Don’t expect a short sale to solve your financial problems. Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You may be asked by your lender to sign a promissory note agreeing to pay back the amount of your loan not paid off by the short sale. If your financial hardship is permanent and you can’t pay back the balance, talk with your real estate attorney about your options.
  • Any amount of your mortgage that is forgiven by your lender is typically considered income, and you may have to pay taxes on that amount. Under a temporary measure passed in 2007, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation Act, homeowners can exclude debt forgiveness on their federal tax returns from income for loans discharged in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Be sure to consult your real estate attorney and your accountant to see whether you qualify.
  • Having a portion of your debt forgiven may have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, a short sale will impact your credit score less than foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA. 

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!
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Prepare Your Home for a Virtual Tour

With more buyers shopping for homes on the Web, photos and virtual tours are a must. There are many things you can do make your home shine on camera.

1. Understand the camera’s perspective. The camera’s eye is very different from the human eye. It magnifies clutter and poor furniture arrangement. To make a home shine in a virtual tour or video presentation, cater to the lens.

2. Make the home “Q-tip clean.” Because the camera magnifies grime, each room must be spotless. Don’t forget floor coverings and walls; a discolored spot on the rug might be overlooked by prospects during a regular home showing, but that stain becomes a focal point for online viewers.

3. Pack up the clutter. But leave three items of varying heights on each surface. For example, on an end table you can place a lamp (high), a small plant (medium), and a book (low).

4. Snap pictures. This will give you an idea of what the home will look like on camera. Closely examine the photos and list changes that would improve each room’s appearance: opening blinds to let in natural light, removing magnets from the refrigerator, or taking down distracting art.

5. Pare down furniture. Identify one or two pieces of furniture that can be removed from each room to make the space appear larger.

6. Rearrange. Spotlight the flow of a space by creating a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and arranging the other pieces of furniture to make a triangle shape. The focal point may be a bed in a bedroom or a china cabinet in a dining room.

7. Reaccessorize. Include a healthy plant in every room; the camera loves green. Energize bland decor by placing a bright vase on a mantle or draping an afghan over a couch.

8. Keep the home in shape. You want buyers who liked what they saw online to encounter the same home in person.

Source: Barb Schwarz, www.StagedHomes.com, Concord, Pa.

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Tips for Buying in a Tight Market

Increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market, and lower your chances of losing out to another buyer.

1. Get prequalified for a mortgage. You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.

2. Stay in close contact with your real estate agent to find out about the newest listings. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast.

3. Scout out new listings yourself. Look at Web sites such as REALTOR.com, browse your local newspaper’s real estate section, and drive through the neighborhood to spot For Sale signs. If you see a home you like, write down the address and the name of the listing agent. Your real estate agent will schedule a showing.

4. Be ready to make a decision. Spend a lot of time in advance deciding what you must have in a home so you won’t be unsure when you have the chance to make an offer.

5. Bid competitively. You may not want to start out offering the absolute highest price you can afford, but don’t go too low to get a deal. In a tight market, you’ll lose out.

6. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

7. Don’t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there’s competition doesn’t mean you should just buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.

 

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

 

5 Property Tax Questions You Need to Ask

Here’s what you need to find out…

1. What is the assessed value of the property? Note that assessed value is generally less than market value. Ask to see a recent copy of the seller’s tax bill to help you determine this information.

2. How often are properties reassessed, and when was the last reassessment done? In general, taxes jump most significantly when a property is reassessed.

3. Will the sale of the property trigger a tax increase? The assessed value of the property may increase based on the amount you pay for the property. And in some areas, such as California, taxes may be frozen until resale.

4. Is the amount of taxes paid comparable to other properties in the area? If not, it might be possible to appeal the tax assessment and lower the rate.

5. Does the current tax bill reflect any special exemptions that I might not qualify for? For example, many tax districts offer reductions to those 65 or over.

 

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!