The ‘Perfect Storm’ for Short Sales Continues in 2013

Like 2012, 2013 may just continue to be the perfect storm for doing a Short Sale:

  • Sonoma County’s available inventory of homes for sale continues to be the lowest in years.
  • Competition for what inventory does exist has pushed up prices and turned the tables, making it a Sellers Market.
  • Bank and Government programs are getting more and more favorable for the Distressed Homeowner who needs to sell.
  • Lenders have too many foreclosures on their books, making Short Sales a better alternative for them.
  • Short Sales are getting, well, shorter because of improved operating standards by the banks and programs by the government.
  • The option to Short Sale is easier on your credit than a foreclosure, making it possible to buy another home sooner.

And the Number One Reason:  The Forgiveness of Debt Tax Relief Act has been extended to the end of 2013 saving you literally tens of thousands of dollars you would otherwise owe the IRS in Federal Income Tax after a Short Sale.

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How the Does the Mortgage Debt Relief Act Affect You?

When you escape a debt the IRS normally counts the amount of the debt you were forgiven as income, and taxes you accordingly.  In terms of a taxable event, this could be significant to you financially if you short sale your home.

Example:  Mr. & Mrs. Jones owe $550,000 on their mortgage, but the current market value for the house is $350,000.  Faced with a transfer, they have to sell their home. Their lender allows them to Short Sale their home for the current market value even though it will net less than the balance owed on the mortgage. In agreeing to sale short, the lender also agrees to forgive the debt on the outstanding balance; in this case, $200,000. Enter the IRS, who view the $200,000 as taxable income!

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act addresses this very scenario, and has been in effect for the last since 2007 when the market began its collapse, throwing many homeowners into financial distress by owing more on their mortgage than what their house was actually worth in the changed market. (It has recently been extended to the end of 2013.)

This act allows a home owner a tax exclusion for the forgiven mortgage debt. Without this Act, in the scenario above, the Jones would get a tax bill on the $200,000 as though it were regular, earned income. That means a bill of somewhere around 30%, or $60,000. Quite a deep hole to fall into!

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is about making it possible to get out from under financial hardship so you can get back on your feet again.

Note:  While this is fantastic news, there are some qualifiers to this tax act.  Be sure to consult a qualified tax preparer before moving ahead.  Also, another thing to consider; the state of California is expected to follow suit with their own forgiveness of debt relief. However, as of this writing, they have not yet extended this tax break on the state level. Plain English: You may get off the hook at the Federal level, but the state is not there….yet.

Why 2012 is the Best Time to Do a Short Sale

2012 may just be the perfect storm:  Sonoma County’s available inventory of homes for sale is the lowest in years. Banks and Government programs are getting more and more favorable for the Distressed Homeowner who needs to sell.  Banks have too many foreclosures on their books.   Short Sales are getting, well, shorter because of improved operating standards by the banks and programs by the government.   And the Number One Reason:  The Forgiveness of Debt Tax Relief Act expires at the end of this year.  Taking advantage of that may save you thousands in taxes you would otherwise have to pay.

Sound interesting?  Pick up the phone and call me!

Sheila Lawrence

707.829.7493

Why Would a Bank Accept a Short Sale?

Why Would a Bank Accept a Short Sale?

The easiest way to demonstrate why a bank will negotiate a short sale is to break down the costs of a foreclosure on a hypothetical property, one a short sale and the other a foreclosure.

The average cost of processing a foreclosure is between $40,000 & $50,000 for the bank before they ever bring the house to the market and pay the additional costs listed here.  That is why banks are moving increasingly towards Short Sales.

Say the property has a current value of $200K and the owner owes the bank $225K. But, the best offer to come in is for $190K.  The bank would be foolish to accept it, won’t they?  Maybe not.  Let’s go through the numbers.

Short Sale:

Market Value $200,000
Loan amount $225,000
Sale Price $190,000
Closing Costs @ 2.25%    -$4,275
Commissions @ 6%  -$11,400
Proceeds from sale $175,325
Loan Amount  $225,000
Less Proceeds -$175,325
Short Sale Lender Loss    $49,675
Loss Percentage      22.07%

Foreclosure on the Same Property:  

Market Value $200,000
Loan Amount $225,000
Sale Price $175,000
Legal Fees    -$7,000
Taxes       -$500
Insurance    -$1,000
6 Months Utilities       -$400
6 Months Maintenance       -$800
6 Months Interest Loss    -$6,650
Association Dues    -$1,200
Staffing Costs (Servicing Dept.)    -$2,000
Closing Costs @ 2.25%    -$4,275
Commissions @ 6%  -$11,400
Proceeds from sale $139,775
Loan Amount  $225,000
Less Proceeds -$139,775
Foreclosure Lender Loss   $85,225
Loss Percentage     37.87%

Lenders Paying Homeowners to Do Short Sales

Source: February 26th, 2012 in CDPE bulletin…

For awhile now, we’ve instructed agents on government incentives available to distressed homeowners who opt to do short sales. Such programs include the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program, which provides up to $3,000 to assist the borrower with relocation fees.

In recent news, major publications including USA TODAY and CNN Money have spotlighted the incentives provided by banks. These incentive programs, which offer anywhere from around $2,000 to upwards of $35,000, are intended to provide homeowners with the resources and motivation to pursue a short sale.

As banks look to ramp up short sales, such incentives are becoming more frequent. JPMorgan Chase began their incentive program last year, for example, and Bank of America (which plans a 60-70% increase in short sales this year) piloted a program in Florida this past December. Wells Fargo offers incentives as well, though primarily in states where the foreclosure process is particularly lengthy.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: This year looks to be the year of the short sale.

For banks, short sales can be a cheaper alternative to foreclosure. The foreclosure process is lengthy and costly, so much so that providing up to a $20,000 alternative for a short sale is still a cheaper option.

In USA TODAY’s article “Lenders Paying Borrowers to Do Short Sales”, Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker, is quoted as saying “It’s a lot cheaper to shell out $10,000 or $20,000 to someone than it is to go through a long foreclosure.”

In addition to the cost of the foreclosure process itself, foreclosed properties sell for less than short sales on average. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, foreclosed properties sold for 22% less than conventional sales, while short sales sold for around 14% less.

12 Ways to Avoid Foreclosure

12 Ways to Avoid Foreclosure

  1. REINSTATEMENT: Bring the loan current
  2. FOREBEARANCE: Temporary repayment plan
  3. REFINANCE: New loan with reduction in monthly payments
  4. LOAN MODIFICATION: Modify original loan terms or reduce principal                 (Visit: www.hmpadmin.com and contact your bank.)
  5. SHORT REFI: (New) Qualify for this process by showing a hardship as well as the ability to pay the new mortgage
  6. SELL THE PROPERTY: Use equity to pay off or pay difference
  7. RENT THE PROPERTY: Must make loan current
  8. SERVICE MEMBERS CIVIL RELIEF (SCRA): Protection for military personnel in foreclosure in specific situations
  9. HAP: Department of Defense for eligible service members and federal civilians
  10. SHORT SALE: Negotiate with bank to accept a sale less than the loan amount due
  11. DEED IN LIEU OF FORECLOSURE: “Friendly Foreclosure”
  12. BANKRUPTCY: Will stall foreclosure, but not prevent it