Is a short sale better than foreclosure?

The short sale industry has been a huge windfall for real estate agents. Some of them scare people into short sales on their home, even though a short sale usually has no advantages over letting your house go into foreclosure. Why do they do this? Simple, it's the fees. Realtors stand to make up to 6 percent from the short sale of your home. On a $200,000 house, that's a tidy $12,000 for the realtors ($6,000 for the seller's agent, $6,000 for the buyer's agent) . Turns out, that's just about enough incentive to pressure you into a short sale, even when there's no benefit to you. 1. Most short sales are no better for your credit score than foreclosure. Both short sales and foreclosures are major credit events that can have a big impact on your score. But there's no support for the myth that a short sale is easier on your credit than a foreclosure. In fact, FICO, the leading credit-scoring company, says the opposite. If you compare a borrower who goes into foreclosure with a borrower who does a short sale where there is a deficiency balance, the credit impact is the same. If the second mortgage company will agree to wipe out your balance, then yes, the credit hit from a short sale may be softer. But this isn't what usually happens.

2. Your realtor probably can't wipe out your second mortgage, despite what he/she tells you. For people who have second mortgages, short sales can be tricky. Remember, in Minnesota, a second mortgage company can sue you after foreclosure for any remaining balance left on their loan. A lot of times, the second lender will release their lien if they can get a few thousand bucks from the closing of the sale, but won't release your liability on the loan. This benefits the buyer, because they can buy the house without the lien, but it doesn't do anything for you, since the second mortgage company can still ask you for the remaining balance. So there's no benefit for you--you're on the hook for practically the same amount of money as if you had gone into foreclosure.

3. Foreclosure may suck, but it has its advantages, too. Short sale has a big disadvantage over foreclosure that your realtor will probably forget to tell you. If you sell your house, you'll probably have to leave within a month or two. If you just let your house go into foreclosure, you may have between six months and a year to live in your house mortgage-free and rent-free, while the foreclosure runs its course. That's a lot of time to save up some money for whatever comes next--such as a security deposit and moving expenses. If you short sell your home, you'll be giving up this right.

4. Don't get caught by the details. I know, I know. Most realtors are honest. But when it comes to short sales, there are a lot of sleazy operators out there who'll tell you anything to get you to sell. We've heard lots of cases of realtors telling the client one thing, and when they get to closing, the deal is totally different than they were led to believe. If you're thinking of a short sale, you probably need an advocate who's working for you, not for the commission. We represent homeowners in trouble with their mortgages. We also review short sale documents to make sure you're getting the deal you think you are. Give us a call to talk about your situation.