New Jersey Short Sales & Law
Short Sales in New Jersey
While the real estate market today has certainly improved since the 2008 downturn, it’s still recovering. Many homeowners still struggle to pay their mortgages, even when they know that their home is no longer worth as much as they owe. Other “creative” mortgage devices, such as variable rate mortgages, can still cause problems for homeowners. When owners struggle to rid themselves of a property, a “short sale” might be the right solution.
Short Sale Basics
Short Sale Deficiencies
Even when a bank accepts a deficiency (the amount between what the lender will take and the actual amount due), they often do not waive the collectability of the deficiency. This means they can attempt to collect payment in full at some point down the road. However, this may not be the case for every lending situation or every short sale. Lenders often respond differently depending on the situation.
In addition, lenders often have the option to assess tax liability on the portion of the loan that was forgiven, so the portion they forgave is taxed as income. This taxation can be devastating for some homeowners.
Process of a Short Sale
While every short sale is slightly different, they follow the same outline.
The seller lists the property: The seller will often work with a Realtor or other professional to create a fair and reasonable sale price when listing the property.
The seller meets with an attorney to begin the negotiation process with the lender: This typically entails signing an agreement that allows your attorney to speak with your lender on your behalf.
The seller compiles financial hardship information: The approval process involves a sign-off procedure that requires the lender or bank to assert that you have a financial hardship. Proving financial difficulties requires submitting significant financial information, including bank statements, tax returns, employment information, and asset statements. If you have significant liquid assets, then the bank or lender may ask that you use these funds to pay the deficiency between the sale and the amount owed.
The Realtor provides relevant market history to the short sale attorney: This information allows the attorney to negotiate with the lender more efficiently.
The homeowner receives and negotiates an offer with a potential buyer: The bank is not involved at this stage, but they will be involved after a fair price is determined by the buyer and seller. Short sales are contingent on both the seller accepting and offer and the lender approving the transaction. All sales contracts must have a provision that the purchase is contingent on lender approval.
The transaction documents are submitted to the lender for approval: You or your attorney will need to provide the contract, proposed settlement agreement, and title report to the bank. Each short sale is assigned to a specific loss mitigation negotiator who will work with your attorney to hammer out the details of the deal.
The bank completes its price opinion and provides approval or denial within 60 to 120 days: The bank will do its own independent research to ensure that the sale price of the home is reasonable. Specifically, a bank will consult a local real estate agent to get their opinion on the price. He or she will provide the bank with a Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO). The lender uses this information as its version of an appraisal. This process prevents sellers from getting rid of their homes for far less than the market value.
There is never a guarantee that a lender will approve a short sale. This risk increases if there are two or more loans on the home. Mechanic’s liens and outstanding homeowner’s association dues can also make the approval process a challenge. If there are federal tax liens on the home, many lenders will not approve a short sale.