10 Common Short Sale Myths Dismissed Part 1

by Rodney Forbes on April 5, 2013

Palm Beach County Florida has a huge number of short sales. What exactly is a short sale?
Short-Sales-lifeboat

A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept less than the total amount owed on a mortgage to avoid having to foreclose on the property. This is not a new practice; banks have been doing short sales for years. Only recently, due to the current state of the housing market and economy, has this process become a part of the public consciousness.

To be eligible for a Florida short sale you first have to qualify!

To qualify for a short sale:

  • Your house must be worth less than you owe on it.
  • You must be able to prove that you are the victim of a true financial hardship, such as a decrease in wages, job loss, or medical condition that has altered your ability to make the same income as when the loan was originated. Divorce, estate situations, etc… also qualify. There are some exceptions to hardship now, but for the most part the bank or investor will need to verify some type of hardship.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a short sale is, there are some huge misconceptions when it comes to a short sale vs. a foreclosure. We take the most common myths surrounding both short sales and foreclosures and give a brief explanation. LET’S BUST SOME MYTHS!!

 

1.) If you let your home go to foreclosure you are done with the situation and you can walk away with a clean slate. The reality is that this couldn’t be any farther from the truth in most situations. You could end up with an IRS tax liability and still owing the bank money. Let me explain. Please keep in mind that if your property does go into foreclosure you may be liable for the difference of what is owed on the property versus what is sells for at auction, in the form of a deficiency balance! Please note this is state specific and in most states you will be liable for the shortfall, but in some states the bank may not always be able to pursue the debt. Check your state law as it varies widely from state to state.

Here is an example of how a deficiency balance works:

If you owe $200,000 on the property and it sells at auction for $150,000, you could be liable for the $50,000 difference if your state law allows it.

Not only could you be liable for the difference to the bank, but in some situations you could also be liable to the IRS! Although there are exemptions (mostly for principal residences) under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, there are times when you could be taxed on both a short sale and a foreclosure, even in a principal residence situation. Since the tax code on this is a little complicated and I am not a CPA, I advise always talking to a CPA when in this situation as you are weighing your options. Banks and the IRS can go as far as attaching your wages. Not to mention if you let your home go to foreclosure you will have that on your credit, as well.

Guess What? A short sale can alleviate your liability to the bank, in most situations. There are also exceptions to this, but in most cases banks are releasing homeowners from the deficiency balance on a short sale.

Short sale myth #2 coming soon.

**Rodney Forbes is a Realtor® and registered broker with Forbes Realty of South Florida, based in West Palm Beach Florida. Rodney and his team work in Palm Beach, Broward, Martin and St. Lucie Counties. As a recognized expert on short sales, Rodney has been featured on radio and national web conferences for agents. Rodney has also authored the book “Should I Short Sale My Home?”

Forbes Realty of South Florida also specializes in REO asset disposition. Rodney works with several banks and asset managers in the Palm Beach County area. Rodney is the main author for the popular real estate blog South Florida Real Estate Report. You can find a wealth of information regarding bank foreclosures, short sales, real estate news and local real estate trends.

For more information, please call Rodney at 561-337-4810 or email Rodney@ForbesRealtyOnline.com

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