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.
Loan Amount Owed $300,000
-Short Sale Price $160,000
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.