Just about every home sale is stressful on the seller. A short sale, given the higher stakes and financial ramifications, often has even more stress for the seller than a typical transaction. On a few occasions, I have had a short sale client lament that they are “left out” in a way, in that everyone is going to walk away from the closing with money except them. Short sale sellers realize no proceeds at closing.
I recall the first instance where this occurred; the seller didn’t really want to sell, and was dismayed at what her perceived as a feeding frenzy around him over his loss. The agents were making a fee, the lawyers were getting a check, and he’d lose his house. It didn’t seem right to him. The listing expired unsold 3 years ago, and it remains unsold with the 3rd listing agent. I don’t think the people could let go.
So what it in it for someone to do a short sale when they don’t get any money? Quite a bit if you ask me.
You avoid a foreclosure. A good point was made by the Distressed Property Institute in the CDPE course: negative trade lines lose their punch and fall off over time, but the one question on every mortgage application is “have you ever had a foreclosure?”
You leave your home with dignity. That goes for you and the neighborhood. Anyone who sells their home moves out on their own terms. Nobody evicts them, and nobody knocks on the door informing them he represents the lender and the house is now theirs. Short sale sellers pack their things and move to their next home like anyone else. And the neighborhood avoids the blight of a bank owned REO and all the baggage that comes with it.
You minimize the impact to your credit. A foreclosure is a nuclear event in credit. I could name nothing worse. While many people who do sell short have late payments, if they manage things correctly they can often be qualified to buy again in 24 months.
You avoid a deficiency judgment. A properly negotiated short sale typically results in the waiver of any deficiency. The slate is wiped clean. As I told my former client, if he just let the house go to foreclosure he wouldn’t get any money either. Worse, a deficiency judgment could haunt him thereafter.
I suppose there are other reasons, but to those who view a short sale as unpalatable, I would ask what they’d propose as a better option. Sometimes you have to choose your poison. Banks aren’t modifying loans these days- as a matter of fact, many of my clients came to me after they were turned down a 2nd and 3rd attempt to modify. You may not walk away with money in a short sale these days. But in a successfully negotiated short sale, do do get something few people consider: a second chance.
To add one more point, there are programs coming into prominence that do offer sellers a small stipend in a short sale, some as much as $7,000. I saw a letter from Chase today referencing up to a $20,000 credit for a short sale. I am sure the small print is copious for that, but HAFA is the first place we are going with our clients in short sales so they can get a credit from their lender at closing. Not every short sale broker is alike. You need a good one who knows how to get the debt discharged and the deficiency waived.