What is a Short Sale?
A short sale is a real estate transaction where the proceeds from selling a home fall short of the outstanding debts secured by liens against the property. A short sale is undertaken by an investor and a homeowner who cannot meet their mortgage requirement. The investor purchases the home below the mortgage amount (at a discount) and assumes ownership of the house. In turn, the seller’s mortgage is regarded as “paid in full” with the lender. The bank or institution who holds the mortgage agrees to the short sale because it rids itself of future losses in the form of foreclosure penalties or auction fees; furthermore, the lender eliminates a toxic loan from its balance sheet.
This transaction—which results in the property owner’s inability to repay the liens’ full amounts—is undertaken by the lien holders, who agree to release the lien and accept less than the original amount owed on the debt. The unpaid balance owed to the creditors (entity who holds the lien) is known as a deficiency.
Short sale transactions; however, will not necessarily release the initial mortgage holder from their obligation to fulfill any deficiencies attached to the loans, unless specifically agreed on between the lender and the seller. The short sale transaction is used as an alternative to a foreclosure because it mitigates reoccurring or additional fees to both the borrower and creditor. That being said, the short sale does not come without negative externalities; a short sale will often result in a negative credit filing against the owner of the property.
What is a Foreclosure?
A foreclosure is the process by which a mortgage lender terminates an existing mortgage through a court order or by an operation of law. Foreclosures occur after the borrower (individual who takes out the mortgage from a bank to purchase a home) fails to meet the payment obligations outlined in the loan agreement. Typically, a lender will offer a mortgage to a borrower, and in turn, the borrower—now homeowner—will pledge an asset (the attached house) to secure the loan. If the borrower defaults on payments, the bank or mortgage holder can repossess or foreclose on the property. That being said, if the borrower defaults, then repays the debt, courts of equity can grant the homeowner the equitable right of redemption. When a home is foreclosed it is either auctioned on the open market or re-sold by the coordinating bank and Real Estate Company. The previous owner, in the simplest of terms, loses all connection to the house. To make matters worse, a foreclosure is reflected on an individual’s credit report.
Short Sale vs. Foreclosure:
If you are facing an economic hardship and you own a home, you may be wondering what to do with your property. When analyzing the benefits and differences between a short sale v. foreclosure you must gauge the effects in relation to your taxes, your future and your credit score.
Benefits of Short Sale v. Foreclosure:
Most homeowners agree that a short sale is far more desirable than a foreclosure. In a short sale, you have the final say regarding the sale price of your home (note: the bank must approve the offer). Furthermore, you avoid foreclosure, get to know the buyer and rid yourself of mortgage payments or future payments (some banks may require deficiency payments).
Buying a Home: Short Sale v. Foreclosure
The prospect of purchasing a new home following a short sale or foreclosure is difficult; negative effects on your credit rating will dissuade lenders from offering you a new mortgage. That being said, the ability to secure a new mortgage at a quicker rate is possible after a short sale.
Purchasing a new home after you have foreclosed is arduous; the process of rebuilding your credit to the point where you are eligible for a new mortgage could take up to seven years.
Effect on Credit: Short Sale v. Foreclosure
When analyzing a short sale v. foreclosure, understand that both processes necessitate the delivery of negative information on your credit profile. A short sale will affect your credit score, even if you do not miss any payments—a lender will report a “paid in full for less than agreed” or “settled for less” on your credit report, notifying potential lenders of your inability to meet a previous mortgage requirement.
That being said, a foreclosure will impose a more drastic effect on your credit score. The drop in your rating will depend on the amount of payments missed; however, the average foreclosure diminishes an individual’s credit by approximately 130 points.
Tax Consequences: Short Sale v. Foreclosure
Due to legislation—specifically the mortgage debt relief bill—a short seller will not face any Federal tax consequences at the time of the sale. When you engage in a short sale, the amount owed minus the amount of the selling price is considered IRS income; however, the mortgage debt relief bill eliminated the federal tax burden from the transaction. That being said, you will still be subjected to your state’s local taxes.
A foreclosure will fall under similar legislation; debt relief will be provided until 2012. However, you are susceptible to a 1099 by the bank after you have foreclosed on. Furthermore, you will be susceptible a local tax depending on your state’s tax code; hiring a tax accountant is strongly suggested if you have foreclosed on your home.