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Jerry Cecil's Blog

By Jerry Cecil PLLC | Agent in Prescott, AZ

Do your research with your CPA before your decide on a short sale


The Wall Street Journal recently ran a couple of articles on the unforseen impacts that short sales can have on homeowners who use short sales to avoid foreclosure. Many Prescott and Prescott Valley homeowners facing foreclosure are under the impression that there are no consequences when the bank “agrees’ to a short sale.

Sadly, this is not always the case. Here’s an excerpt:

Some homeowners are finding that when they sell their homes for less than the outstanding mortgages — a so-called short sale — their mortgage companies are going after them for some or all of the difference. Mortgage companies are also sometimes taking legal action to recover unpaid amounts after a foreclosure is completed.

In a growing number of cases, holders of mortgages or home-equity loans are requiring borrowers in short sales to sign a promissory note, which is a written promise to pay back a loan or debt. Real-estate agents and attorneys say they have seen an increase in requests for promissory notes as mortgage companies look to short sales as an alternative to foreclosure.

In many states, lenders have always had the right to pursue former homeowners for unpaid mortgage debt. Yet until recently, most borrowers who ran into trouble were able to refinance or sell their homes and pay off their loans. Now, falling home prices are widening the gap between home values and mortgage balances, and the number of homeowners who can’t make their mortgage payments is rising as the economy has weakened. More than 3.8 million homes will be lost in 2009 and 2010 because borrowers can’t make their mortgage payments, according to forecasts from Moody’s Economy.com.

Mortgage companies are sometimes going after unpaid debt after a short sale or foreclosure.

Here are some factors they may consider:

How big was the unpaid debt?

Was the property purchased as an investment?

What are the borrower’s assets and income?

What is the policy of the investor or mortgage insurer?

Read the full article here.

It’s true that in Arizona your primary residence is USUALLY subject to the anti-defficiency statutes, but there are exceptions. Bottom line: before you call an agent who specializes in short sales, call your CPA and spend the $150 to find out if a short sale will leave you shorter than your think.

See this post: Common questions about short sale tax consequences

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