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Clearing the short sale fog

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POSTED November 5, 2010 2:55 a.m.
Growing up in our valley, I loved fog!  Because fog for us represents the changing of a season.  It meant “red cups” are coming back to Starbucks, turkey will become a meal staple for a week and Christmas is around the corner.  But a “foggy” or “gray” understanding of our real estate market can make for a great deal of anxiety.

In our information age, there is definitely an abundance of information about our distressed markets and mortgages.  The big problem is deciphering through all the “fog” and noise to make an educated clear decision about your situation.  Today I wanted to share some common questions I’ve encountered working with our fellow neighbors this last week.

Q. Should we stop making payments on our house?

A. We do not advise in that matter.  Consult with a CPA.  We have successfully helped many people who stayed current on their payments all the way through the process.  There are also programs to assist people in a refinance or other solutions that are only for people who are current on their mortgages.

Q. How will a short sale affect my taxes and credit? Are there legal ramifications of a short sale?

A. The decision to sell your home as a “Short Sale” is only one of a number of choices you might have to address your needs. To determine the right path it is really important for you to consult with legal & tax advisors prior to signing the listing agreement. You should seek answers to your questions from licensed professionals before entering into an agreement with a buyer to purchase your home.  Also know that if you feel like a short sale is not right for you, you can cancel the deal even at the escrow signing table, but there will be consequences such as a foreclosure.

Q. Can’t you as a Realtor/licensed agent consult me on tax, credit and legal matters?

A. No, it is beyond the scope of our duties to offer such consultation. We are not licensed in those areas.

Q. What are your duties, as my agent, in the short sale process.

A. We market your house for sale, negotiate on your behalf with the buyer and buyer’s agent, work with the lien holder(s) to process the short sale and manage the escrow process.
Q. How long can we continue to live in the house?

A. The house is still yours until the close of escrow or until it is sold in a Trustee Sale. During a short sale you can live in the house until the close of escrow or such time that you agree to vacate it based on the purchase agreement with the buyer. If the lien holder does not grant a short sale and chooses to foreclose (Trustee Sale) you will have to make arrangements with the lien holder for vacating the property.  If you are the owner occupier of the home, there are government programs if you qualify, that will pay you $3000 for moving expenses.

Q. How will I know when I need to get ready to move?

A. If the short sale is approved you will receive a written “term sheet” from the lien holders(s) indicating approval. Escrow typically begins the day after the term sheet is delivered to the buyer’s agent. Most escrows are 30-45 days. So you will have 30-45 days, depending on the agreement you made with the buyer, for escrow to close. You must be moved out before escrow closes.

Q. There is a Notice of Default on my property. Is it too late to do a short sale?

A. No, in most in cases there still is time to complete a short sale after a home owner has received a Notice of Default. Please note that when you have received a Notice of Default time is of the essence and the short sale process must be started as soon as possible.

Q. There is a Notice of Trustee Sale on the Property is it too late to do a Short Sale?

A. We have successfully completed short sales after a Notice of Trustee Sale has been recorded. Depending on bank procedures and timing it may still be possible. Our team can make an assessment.

Q. I live in a Home Owners Association (HOA). How does this affect a short sale?

A. If you are current on your obligations to the HOA there should be no problem. We work to negotiate a short sale with your mortgage lien holder(s). It can be difficult to complete a short sale if you are behind on your HOA dues. Many HOAs will not participate in a short sale as they are cash strapped due to foreclosures and defaults within the HOA. It is possible to work out a short sale when you are in an HOA but it will require involvement on your part. You will be responsible to convey current HOA documents to the buyer of your home.

Hopefully these answers help to clear the “fog” and answer some of your questions.  For more information on a short sale or a free loan modification please call 209-627-0791 or visit alternative2foreclosure.com
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