What is a Florida Short Sale?

A Florida Short Sale is when a homeowner owes more on their home then what they can sell it for in today’s real estate market.  This will include any mortgages (sometimes homeowners may have several mortgages), equity lines, delinquent property taxes, past due HOA (Homeowners Association) fees, past due Condominium fees, estoppel fees, Lender Placed PMI, possible governmental fines as well as standard closing costs.

Unlike a foreclosure (where the lender has already taken back the property from the homeowners through a judicial process), the homeowner still holds the title to the property.  A buyer will present an offer and negotiate with the seller, not the lender.  Once the buyer and seller come to an agreement, the seller will then submit a Short Sale Application to their lender, asking permission from their lender to sell the property for less than what is owed.  Just because the buyer and seller have come to an agreement doesn’t mean the lender will accept the contract presented.  The lender can negotiate with the buyer regarding price and terms and negotiate with the seller with conditions they may require before approving homeowners request for a short sale.

Patience from the buyer and seller are key to a successful short sale.  This process may take months to complete. Sellers need to make sure they are working with an experienced Florida Short Sale Agent who knows how to negotiate the best deal possible for you.  Sometimes your Florida Short Sale agent can mean the difference between receiving a short sale approval or denial letter which can possibly lead to foreclosure.

Can’t I just give the keys to my bank and be done with this?

Many people think that they can just turn over the keys to their lender and walk away and everything will be alright.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  Florida is a deficiency state and homeowners will be held responsible for their deficiencies, attorney fees, court costs, etc.  This will absolutely cost you!  A lender has 5 years or longer to file a lawsuit against you to collect ANY deficiencies after a foreclosure and could have up to 20 years to collect. Lenders ARE seeking restitution from homeowners who decided to just walk away from their property.

Why would a bank accept less than what is owed to them?

The Foreclosure process is an expensive and long process.  Banks will have to incur the costs of hiring an attorney, securing the property, maintaining the property, repairing any damage, remediating mold or defective drywall issues, real estate fees along with many other additional fees.  Banks do not want to own real estate.

What are some other alternatives to Foreclosure?

Refinance

If your credit allows for refinancing and if you meet eligibility requirements, an option is HOPE for Homeowners (H4H) a program available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) www.hopenow.com.  You can also visit the Making Home Affordable Web site for information: www.MakingHomeAffordable.com.

Lender Workout Options

Lenders often will work with distressed homeowners to help them keep their homes by reducing or rolling back interest rates, forgiving back payments, adding them to the loan amount, or possibly recasting the entire loan and wrapping all fees into a fixed-rate mortgage.

Forbearance.  Lenders may let you make a partial payment, or skip payments, if you have a reasonable plan to catch up.  Tell your lender if you expect a tax refund, a bonus, or starting a new job.
Reinstatement.  Reinstatement refers to making a payment that covers all your late payments, usually at the end of a forbearance period.
Repayment Plan.  If you can’t afford reinstatement, but can start making payments to catch up, the lender may let you pay an additional amount each month until you are caught up.
Loan Modification.  Your lender may agree to amend your mortgage to help you avoid foreclosure.  The options include:

  • Adding all the missed payments to the loan amount and increasing the monthly payment to cover the larger loan.
  • Giving you more years to pay off the loan, lowering the interest rate, and/or forgiving part of the loan, to lower your monthly payment.
  • Switching from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage, so you aren’t exposed to increases in your monthly payment.
  • Requiring amounts for taxes and insurance to be included with your monthly mortgage payment so you avoid big bills in addition to your mortgage.

Sell and Bring Cash to Closing

Although many homeowners today may not have the necessary cash to cure deficiencies at closing, they may have to liquidate assets, e.g., U.S. Treasury bonds; individual retirement accounts (IRAs), to do so.  By curing deficiencies at closing, homeowners can avoid the credit damage that a short sale or foreclosure can cause.  However, homeowners are strongly encouraged to consult with their finance and tax professionals before bringing liquid assets to closing.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

A deed in lieu of foreclosure occurs when the borrower agrees to trade the property to the lender in exchange for the cancellation of the note.  The lender will be able to get the property much sooner than going through the foreclosure process.  This lessens the probability of the property being in disrepair as well as eliminates the lenders costs to go through the foreclose process.  Market conditions as well as state-specific laws will influence whether and how a lender accepts a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Typically, lenders are less willing to consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure in declining markets.  However, in appreciating markets, lenders may accept properties in lieu of foreclosure.  Be sure to consult an attorney if you decide to pursue a deed in lieu of foreclosure to make sure that you will be released from any deficiencies. 

Foreclosure

If the homeowner is only weeks away from the foreclosure sale taking place, the homeowner may not be able to pursue any of the previous options, including a short sale. If contacted by the homeowner at a late date, it is recommended you contact your lender immediately and see if it is possible to explore foreclosure alternatives.  Also, in some situations, foreclosure may even be in the best interest of distressed homeowners even if doing so will wreak the most damage to their credit.  If the lender will not explore foreclosure alternatives, contact an attorney for advice.

Do Nothing or Walk Away

Your home is underwater. You owe more on the mortgage than the property is worth. Maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. You cannot afford the mortgage payments, the homeowners’ association dues, the property taxes, and maintenance and upkeep.  Why not let the Bank take the property? Why shouldn’t you just mail the keys back to the Bank and let the Bank sort it out?

With many mortgage foreclosure lawsuits being filed each month in Florida, it appears that not just a few homeowners or investors are choosing to ignore the problem and head for the hills.  Many of these lawsuits are won by default for failure of the homeowner to file a response to the complaint of foreclosure. *BE CAREFUL* Ignoring this particular problem could have consequences you could not possibly have imagined.

Documents typically needed to file a short sale application with your lender

  • ListingAgreement (provided by real estate agent
  • Authorization to release information to your Realtor, Attorney, Title Company
  • Hardship letter which tells lender what caused you to be in this situation
  • Financial worksheet (list of expenses and assets)
  • Last 2 years of tax returns (for each person listed on the mortgage note)
  • Last 2 bank statements
  • Last 2 pay stubs or profit & loss statements
  • Signed purchase offer (provided by real estate agent)
  • Sample closing statement (provided by real estate agent)
  • Comparative Market Analysis with photos otherwise may be known as a BPO (provided by real estate agent)