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NAR Issue Brief
Mortgage Debt Cancellation Tax Relief
Update on the current status of the mortgage debt cancellation tax relief provision that expired at the end of 2013. As soon as the last one-year extension was passed on New Years’ Day 2013, NAR began working on another extension of this critical tax provision. With NAR’s encouragement, champions of this provision introduced bi-partisan bills in both the House and Senate (H.R. 2994/S. 1187), to extend the provision for one or two years. Unfortunately, the current prospect of these bills being enacted in the short term is not particularly high. We are facing four big hurdles.
1. The Chairmen of both of Congress’s tax committees (Senate Finance and House Ways and Means) have committed to passing comprehensive tax reform legislation before the end of 2014. As part of reform, they have both indicated that they plan to go through the long list of expiring items, including mortgage debt cancellation, and cull those that are not worthy of permanence and make all the “worthy” ones a permanent part of the tax law. However, tax reform is unlikely to be completed in the coming months. If Congress were to extend the expiring provisions now, it might appear that they were giving up on tax reform. This is not a signal they wish to send.
2. There are over 50 such expiring tax provisions (often referred to as “extenders”). Congress rarely passes single tax provisions by themselves. The rules in both the House (and especially the Senate) could allow for added amendments that would turn a simple bill with wide support into a politically divisive bill.
3. The extension of the tax relief “costs” money to the Treasury. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that a one-year extension of the mortgage debt cancellation relief would cost $3.7 billion. Some Members of Congress will insist that amount be offset by raising taxes elsewhere or cuts in spending – an ongoing debate in Congress.
4. The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus of Montana, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the next United States Ambassador to China. His departure from the Senate will turn the chairmanship over to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. As with any change in committee leadership, there will be an adjustment period.
In sum, NAR tried to have the extension passed by year-end but it was not possible. Because of the factors listed above, NAR has so far decided not to issue Member-wide Call for Action at this time, but has instead focused on working with Congressional leadership and the bill sponsors to find additional support for moving this legislation now that Congress has returned to Washington. Our lobbyists are in daily meetings with Members of Congress, pressing for an extension and providing the most up to date data on short sales and foreclosures to continue to highlight this as a top priority.
What can you do? First, you can contact your Representative and Senators to urge them to act on these bills. If you are in distressed situation, urge them to do so as well. The more Members hear from constituents, the better.
NAR cautions REALTORS® against giving clients tax advice, as every situation is different, but at this point our best estimate is that Congress will pass some extension of this law, probably late in 2014, and make it retroactive. There is precedent for Congress doing this, but no guarantee.
NAR cautions REALTORS® against giving clients tax advice, as every situation is different, but at this point our best estimate is that Congress will pass some extension of this law in 2014 and make it retroactive. There is precedent for Congress doing this, but no guarantee.
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.
Dear Home Owner,
Keisha Mathews & Co Realty Group has partnered with National Mortgage Forgiveness Plan (NMFP) to assist homeowners who are experiencing a hardship and can no longer continue to pay their mortgage. There are still homeowners who have fallen on hard times. There is help available and now incentives for homeowners to short sale rather than just walk away or do nothing.
Our goal is to find out what’s most important to you and help you acheive that goal. There are many options for someone in this position and we would like to help you find the right one for you that fits your circumstances. Please click on our website below. There is great information to assist you. If you are already behind on your payments, dont wait. Call today. It doesn’t cost you anything for a consultation, Neither does it cost you anything for a short sale if we decide that is your best option.
(Guest article, Dian Hymer – Client Direct)
Some buyers in hot markets with a low inventory of homes for sale are losing out over and over in multiple-offer competitions. You can improve your chances of having an offer accepted by clearing up any issues that might cause a seller to look askance at your offer when compared to one from another buyer.
If your purchase offer is littered with contingencies that protect you, the sellers are more likely to see the contract as risky, especially if they are looking at other offers that contain fewer contingencies.
A clean contract is free of contingencies, which can give buyers a competitive advantage, especially if they are offering less than full price or are in competition with other buyers.
Timing is everything in the home sale business. Buyers often lose out on the opportunity to make an offer on a listing because they are traveling for business or vacation. One partner may see the home of their dreams, but the other won’t be back in town to take a look for days or weeks.
Making an offer contingent on the absentee buyer’s approval of a property is risky from the seller’s standpoint. If the seller accepts the offer, he takes his home off the market not knowing if the absentee buyer will like the house enough to buy it.
It would be very difficult to get such an offer accepted if there are multiple offers from buyers who have all seen the property. The Internet can give a great introduction to a listing, but it usually doesn’t include photos of items that might cause you to pass on the property, like a neighbor’s home that is in poor repair or a location close to a noisy freeway.
Some buyers buy property without having seen it. To get an offer accepted, these offers usually have a generous price, and close quickly. The buyers may later find problems that they could have discovered had they seen the property before making an offer. It’s better for both buyers and sellers if all potential buyers have seen the property before an offer is made.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Try to anticipate if there is any condition of your home purchase that would cause the sellers to shy away from accepting or countering your offer. If such conditions exist, try to address them before you make an offer.
For example, let’s say your parents are willing to give you a large amount of cash for a down payment to make your offer more competitive. Make sure this will be acceptable to your mortgage lender.
Find out what verification the lender will require from your parents. If the lender needs a gift letter that stipulates you don’t need to repay the money, have your parents write this letter and include a copy with your offer.
Sellers are always concerned about the buyer’s financial capability to close the transaction. Your offer should include a letter from your lender stating that you are preapproved for the financing that you need. The letter should stipulate that the lender has verified the cash you need for the down payment and closing costs.
If the verification of funds needed to close is not included in the preapproval letter, make a copy of a bank or brokerage statement that verifies the amount you need. Black out the account number and include a copy of this with your offer.
In some areas, buyers are making offers without any contingencies. That is as clean as it gets. However, there can be problems with contingency-free offers. Buyers can feel pressured into waiving an inspection contingency because they’re sure they can’t compete unless they do. The sellers could end up in a legal hassle with the buyers after closing if problems arise that weren’t disclosed to them.
THE CLOSING: Buyers should ask the sellers for permission to preinspect the property before they make an offer without an inspection contingency.
For homeowners who are in danger of losing their home to foreclosure, it is common to feel like you are alone and that there is no one to help. This simply isn’t true. There are real people who have been in the same situation who have found solutions. Take, for example, Punipuao W. of Hawaii.
Punipuao found herself struggling to keep her home after her husband passed away. “With only my income, I was no longer able to make my monthly mortgage payment,” she said. Faced with the prospect of losing the home she and her husband had bought together, she began looking for alternatives to help her keep the home.
She pleaded with the bank for relief, “but their responses gave me little information and even less hope.”
The prospect of losing the home she and her husband had shared for over 20 years was difficult. “I was so distraught,” she said. “I did not know where to turn.
“Then, one day, my miracle came through a red envelope in the mail.”
In the envelope was a note from a local real estate agent with the Certified Distressed Property Expert designation (or CDPE). This designation meant that the agent was trained specifically to help people like Punipuao. She called the agent.
“About four hours after I made the call, he was at my door offering help. I told him my story.” In merely two days, she received a call from the bank saying that the president of the bank was reviewing her file. “That was a good sign,” she said.
A few days after that, Punipuao had been approved for a trial loan modification. “There were many tears of gratitude at the miracle that came to me in the form of my agent. I thank god for sending me that miracle.”
Punipuao’s story is just one of many. I have a report entitled “From Foreclosure to Freedom” which tells other stories of real homeowners who faced foreclosure and found relief. Download the report, read the stories, and then contact me for a free, confidential consultation.
A great question. This question was recently asked of me and I thought I would share the information with you all.
The Jr Lienholder in the past has been very difficult to deal with. However, recently, most Jr Lienholders are very cooperative in the short sale approval process. This is due to new laws (state and federal) and incentives being offered to the Jr Lienholder for their cooperation.
For example, the jr lienholder currently can be offered up to $8500 through the HAFA short sale program (if the seller qualfies for the program). In addition, there is typically an unspoken threshhold which the Sr Lienholder is already willing to go to offer a payoff to the Jr Lienholder. So, it is safe to say that there is already some money there for the Jr Lienholder, most of the time, not always.
Then you have the Jr Lienhodler from hell, like Franklin Credit. I must say, it took over one year (and I’m assuming some personnel turnover) to get them to approve as Jr Lienholder on a file we closed several years ago. Needless to say, things with them have not changed. I was contacted by an agent from So Cal who was going through a very similar and painful experience with Frankline Credit – their tactics have not changed. They are a mostly non-negotiable, non-cooperative, non-customer friendly credit collector. I don’t mean to sound so negative about them, but these are the facts. If things have changed with them and I am wrong, please, please, please correct me.
So, how do you prepare a buyer going into a short sale situation with a jr lienholder? In our Short Sale Offer Submisison Addendum, we let the buyer know that there may be a possibility that they may be asked to pay any additional fees which the Sr Lienholder does not approve, as long as the Sr Lienholder approves of the buyer paying those fees. That normally works out fine. When we are negotiating a short sale, we always begin negotiations with a small amount to the Jr Lienholder ($3000). That is traditionally the standard amount most Sr lienholders will approve to the Jr Lienholder. From there, if the Jr requires more, we submit that to the Sr lienholder first, then if more cash is required, we go to the buyer. Buyer is lready prepared, so no surprises there.
However, most Jr Lienholders that I am dealing with will now accept the standard $3000 payoff. Not always the case, but we can usually work something out if they require more.
Note also that SB 458 prohibits the seller from being required to make a contribution to the sale in order to attain an approval. It is the seller’s discretion as to whether they are able and willing to contribute In most cases the seller is not in a finanical position to make a contribution.
So the above are a few ways in which you can prepare yourself as a buyer, or buyer’s agent when representing a buyer in a short sale, and contending with the Jr Lienholder. If my colleagues out there have any additional advice to offer, I’d be happy to hear about it!
Recently, well last year, I wrote about both the National Mortgage Settlement (In February 2012, 49 state attorneys general and the federal government announced a historic joint state-federal settlement with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers), and the Independent Foreclosure Review (Ten mortgage servicing companies subject to enforcement actions for deficient practices in mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing reached an agreement in principle with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Board to pay more than $8.5 billion in cash payments and other assistance to help borrowers).
Today I received an e-newsletter from BPE Law Group which summarizes the most recent happenings with both lawsuits settlements. I thought it was very well put together and so I’m sharing it with you below. I highly recommend BPE Law Group (info at the end of this post) should you have any further questions regarding these legal matters, and how they might affect you.
If your loan was owned or serviced by any of the settling banks – BofA, Wells Fargo, Chase, Citi, or Ally – and your home was foreclosed upon between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, you may be eligible to receive a cash payment as part of the settlement. A settlement administrator has been appointed to accept claims and to oversee the distribution of settlement payments.
Claim forms must be submitted by no later than January 18, 2013.
The easiest and fastest way to submit your claim is online.
Go to: https://nationalmortgagesettlementclaim.com/ and follow the instructions.
Information about the settlement administrator is also available at: www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com. The e-mail address for the administrator is firstname.lastname@example.org The administrator can also be called toll-free at 1-866-430-8358.
In addition, a separate Program had been lauched previously creating a Independent Foreclosure Review for those who may have been foreclosed between 2009-2010. However, the processing has been a nightmare. Last week, a Settlement was reached whereby the settling lenders agreed to pay $8.5 Billion to a fund and the Foreclosure Review was shut down. Within the next few weeks, a process will be set-up to submit claims. Watch your mail box for more. You can learn more at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/press/bcreg/20130107a.htm
None of the above Settlement programs bars a foreclosed party from asserting separate damage claims against their lender, assuming they have the financial capacity to do so. A few Class Action lawsuits have been set up around the country although they, like individual lawsuits, appear to be bogged down in the Courts.
If you have questions concerning your rights and possible recovery against your lender, you may want to have a follow-up consultation with us.
This home loans crisis is destroying hopes and dreams and families across our nation. If you know anyone struggling with these problems, please do them a favor and pass this newsletter along to them. We have a flat fee $200 consultation that guides you in identifying the problems and risks and creates a strategy to deal with them. A similar program is being set-up for Commercial Property Owner Consultations.
Steve Beede, Founder and Managing Partner
BPE Law Group, Inc.
Main: 11140 Fair Oaks Blvd., Suite 300, Fair Oaks, CA 95628
Satellite: 9245 Laguna Springs Dr., Suite 200, Elk Grove, CA 95758
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to get your financial house in order.
In the news, there is talk of a housing recovery. Experts feel more optimistic about the state of housing industry in America. However, if you or someone you know is one of the millions of homeowners who is stuck with a home on which you owe more than the property is worth, the feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Many people don’t realize that just because they are in danger of losing their home to foreclosure doesn’t mean they have to wait around for it to happen. With help, they can take matters into their own hands.
CLAIM YOUR TICKET TO FREEDOM!
As a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), I make it my business to know all of the ins-and-outs of the options that are available for people who are in danger of losing their homes and help the challenges head-on.
Take a look at the information on this site and then Contact me today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.