3 Things You Didn’t Know About Short Sales

You'll be surprised to learn this about short sales.
You’ll be surprised to learn this about short sales. Elk Grove & Sacramento Short Sales.

Short sales have become a part of the normal fabric of real estate business. At a minimum, most people now understand the term “short sale” doesn’t mean the sale will be short, will take less time, or that the price the home will sell for will be much less than market value.

Surprisingly though, there is still a large segment of the population unaware of what may probably be three of the most important benefits to completing a short sale. With that being said, you too may be surprised to learn that, if you complete a short sale there may be:

1. No cost to you, the seller
That’s right. For the majority of sellers, to complete a short sale is totally free. The proceeds from the sale cover the costs associated with the sale, and your lender approves all fees. For example: title and escrow fees, state mandated items (NHD reports), broker fees for service (commissions), and most lenders even pay outstanding property tax liens!

You should never be asked to pay a fee to complete your short sale. If an agent asks you to pay a fee as a requirement to start or complete your short sale, find another agent.

2. Zero Tax Liability, Zero Deficiency Liability
Tax Liability – In the past, when you completed a short sale, your lender would send you a 1099 and view the forgiven difference as taxable income for the year. This gets filed with your next tax return and, unless you have an exemption, you must pay taxes on the forgiven income. This would, of course, push most people into a new tax bracket requiring you to pay taxes on that forgiven difference.

For example:
Loan Amount Owed $300,000
-Short Sale Price $160,000
Difference $140,000

However, for owner occupied residences, the Debt Forgiveness Act allows tax liability protection on the difference up to $250,000 if you are single, and $500,000 if you are married. President Obama recently extended the act until December 31, 2013. So let’s apply this law to our example above:

Loan Amount Owed $300,000
-Short Sale Price $160,000
Difference $140,000 = FORGIVEN!!
Up to $250,000 (single); $500,000 (married)

In addition, there are numerous exemptions that apply which can enable you to avoid this tax even if it is not your primary residence.

Deficiency (In the state of California) – The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 931 adding Section 580e to the California Code of Civil Procedure and stating that the senior lien holder could not pursue a deficiency judgment after a short sale which they had previously approved. The law equally applies to purchase money, hard money and refinance – as long as there was no cash out.

They later passed Senate Bill 458, amending Section 580e and extending the protection of SB 931, by making it applicable to junior liens as well. In addition to not being able to get a deficiency judgment it provides that after a short sale, no deficiency shall be owed or collected and no deficiency judgment shall be requested or rendered provided the short sale closed escrow and the lender was paid the amount they agreed to accept.

The amended law further provides that the holder of a note shall not require the seller to pay any additional compensation, aside from the proceeds of the sale, in exchange for their consent to the short sale.

How’s that for protection? So, to recap – you get to complete a short sale at no cost to you, your debt and deficiency are also forgiven, and the lender cannot ask you to come in with any additional funds above the amount they agree to accept. What more could you ask for? How about cash back?

3. Cash Back to You
Lenders learned rather quickly the magnitude of the financial responsibilities which came with foreclosed properties; tax liens, outstanding utility bills, property damage, vandalism, etc – all at a very large price tag and not including their standard attorney fees. So not only did it make sense to pay the seller an incentive to remain in the home and keep the home in good condition until close of escrow, but it also helped the seller with moving expenses as well. This turned out to be a win-win situation for everyone. Thus, relocation assistance was born and adopted.

How much assistance you will receive and specific assistance guidelines will vary. For example, if you short sale under HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative), you could receive $3000. However, many lenders now have their own in-house incentive programs which offer relocation assistance anywhere from $3000 to as much as $30,000 or more.

So if you are facing foreclosure, contact Mathews & Co Realty Group with Century 21 Landmark Networ at (916) 678-1803 or me, Keisha Mathews, (team short sale specialist) via direct email at SacramentoShortSaleLady@gmail.com. I would be happy to meet with you to go over your options helping you avoid foreclosure, and explain how you could reap the many benefits as well.

The information contained above is not to be construed as legal or tax advice. Each individual’s personal situation may vary. We at Mathews & Co Realty Group are not tax professionals or attorneys. Please consult a real estate attorney or tax advisor to determine whether the information above is applicable to your individual situation.

Market Update – Seriously, It’s A Sellers’ Market

new home construction n elk groveHomeowners who lost their homes at unprecedented numbers inadvertently created extraordinary opportunities of home ownership for both investors and owner occupants. Upside down home ownership blazed a grave trail with foreclosures and short sales (distressed sales) paving the way of Sacramento’s “buyers’ market”.

The recovery has been painful and volatile. At the height of the crisis, industry analysts were incredibly optimistic predicting it would last only a year or two at the most. Seven years later forecasting continues to be a challenge. Just as the mainstream media seems to sync with the analysts, Bernake speaks, interest rates bump up overnight, and you and I get to buckle up for another exciting ride in the wonderful world of real estate. However, there is actual evidence that recovery may truly be underway.

AND NOW THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

An analysis by RealtyTrac Inc. shows Sacramento as one of the hottest turn-around markets and predicts we are headed for a more normal pattern because of a rapid increase in new-housing permits at the start of this year and a significant drop in foreclosures.

To give you an idea of what that foreclosure drop looks like and some comparisons, the breakdown of sales for May was 115 REOs (6.9%), 371 short sales (22.2%) and 1,186 conventional sales (70.9%). Compared to one year ago, REO (bankowned) sales accounted for 27.8%, short sales 30.1% and conventional sales 42.2%. Since then REOs have dropped 75.1%, short sales dropped 26.2% and conventional sales have increased 68%.

However, low inventory remains a serious issue for buyers, especially would be first time buyers. Compared with May 2012, the sales volume has decreased 7.9% from the 1,816 units sold. Although active listing inventory increased for the month of May, rising 7.7% from 1,381 units to 1,488 units, the months of inventory remained at .9. This number explains the amount of time (in months) that it would take to deplete the current inventory at the current sales rate.

SAR President Chris Little adds his observations: “The number of listings continues to decline and months of inventory remain exceptionally low with supplies lasting less than 3 weeks. Both the median and mean sales prices continue to increase significantly and cash buyers, though significant, are a declining portion of the buyers.”

WHERE’S THAT LIGHT AGAIN?

So when will we begin to see some of this new inventory from the housing permit increase? According to an article in the Sacramento Business journal, “Large homebuilders are snapping up the available lots out there, with plans to build on them as soon as possible, according to Jim Radler of Land Advisors organization in Sacramento… JMC Homes bought 54 finished lots called Sienna in an unincorporated area north of Elk Grove, between Calvine and Robbins roads and east of Elk Grove/Florin Road, near a strip mall.” As soon as this time next year we can begin to see move-in ready new home construction.

SAR President Chris Little continues, “Demand is high, supply is very low and investors are moving away. If interest rates continue to rise and lender practices continue to be stringent, it may flatten the rising demand due to challenges for buyers on the financing side. Therefore, homeowners with equity and a desire to sell should act on it and consult a REALTOR®.”

All these combine to make it a STRONG sellers’ market. With inventory on the rise and interest rates still at record lows, it’s STILL a great time to buy and sell. If you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell, give us a call.

(Market Data – Sacramento Association of REALTOR’s RESIDENTIAL RESALE STATISTICS May 2013)