Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Foreclosure May Not Be Your Only Option

I get it. I have been there. You are dangerously behind in your mortgage payments and you can’t seem to catch up. You’re getting the letters and phone calls that lead you to believe that you have no other option. Foreclosure seems eminent. That’s not necessarily the case.

The mortgage company doesn’t want to own your home anymore than you want to lose it. In the current Real Estate market, (definitely here in the Denver Colorado area) it seems that this scenario is more common than believable. The home prices dropped; an A.R.M. (adjustable rate mortgage) adjusts to a higher rate; the new payment is now unaffordable; refinancing is out of the question because of credit status changes; the owner finds that they owe more than they can realistically sell it for. What now? Walk away? Not a good idea. Without filing bankruptcy, the bank can still come after what is owed to them; even after they take AND sell the property. (and it’ll be a lot higher because of the cost of foreclosing on the property)

There are other ways. One of these ways is called a “short-sale”; it is a way for the bank and/or mortgage company to come to a feasible solution with you. A short-sale is where the mortgage company agrees to take a certain percentage of the money that you owe and give you a letter releasing you from the remainder of the debt. The short-sale could still affect your credit, but by now your credit could already be trashed due to the situation.

Most of the time the bank won’t even discuss a short-sale with you until you are behind in your payments (3 months in some cases) I have seen the banks discuss short-sale prior to default, but it was only in very specific situations.

Please understand, it is not an easy road to go with a short-sale. There is quite a bit of documentation and negotiation, but it is much easier than the alternative. You probably won’t find out how much the bank will accept until you get an offer from a qualified buyer. It is best to find a Realtor that has experience in pre-foreclosure and short-sale. The Realtor can help guide you and in some cases help you to negotiate with the bank to make sure things go smoothly. The Realtor will know the language being spoken by the bank, can help you to put together the documentation and help you to understand the process.

So, the first steps aside from finding a qualified real estate agent; call your mortgage company, (don’t avoid them, they won’t go away), find out their process for short sale (the Realtor will help), get the house on the market, price it fairly according to the agents recommendations, keep the home in top quality condition (it will sell faster and possibly at a higher price). Once the offer comes in, be prepared to wait. The mortgage companies are dealing with hundreds; even thousands of short sales and foreclosures. They will get to yours, it may just take a little time (let your agent call and check on it), the buyers also have to be prepared to wait; your agent will make sure everyone knows the situation (within the terms of your agreement with the agent)

Don’t give up hope! It may take a couple of years to bring your credit score up; but compared to foreclosure, judgments, collections, bankruptcy and possibly attorneys, it will be much better for you in the long run. Hang in there! Find a good Realtor to help.

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