What is a Short Sale in North Carolina?

November 4, 2023

Learn what a short sale is, how the process works, and get advice on doing a successful short sale to avoid foreclosure and minimize financial damage.

A short sale happens when you sell your house for less money than you still owe on your mortgage. The money from the sale goes to pay back the bank, and then the bank agrees to forgive the rest of what you owe.

Doing a short sale can help you avoid foreclosure.

Banks usually lose money when they foreclose on a house. So they often prefer to avoid foreclosing if possible.

A short sale gives the bank a way to lose less money on a mortgage since they get some money back from the sale.

But short sales are not easy to get approved. To do a short sale, you have to show proof to the bank that you have a real financial hardship.

And it's not just up to the bank - if you have mortgage insurance, that company gets a say too. Investors can also decide whether to allow a short sale or not.

The process for a short sale can be tricky too. Many short sales fall apart because the bank makes extra demands.

For example, they may want the real estate agent to lower their commission, or make the seller promise to pay back the remaining debt later.

If you're selling your home in a short sale, consider having your agent or an expert negotiate with the bank for a better deal.

And remember, if the bank forgives part of what you owe, the IRS counts that as taxable income. You'll have to report it when you file your taxes.

The Short Sale Process

Doing a short sale involves a few key steps:

Making the Decision

  • Consider all your options - loan modification, bankruptcy, foreclosure may be better in some cases
  • Calculate the costs - you may owe taxes on forgiven debt

Preparing Your Application

  • Get statements showing financial hardship
  • Write a hardship letter explaining your situation
  • Gather all documentation about debts, assets, income

Finding a Buyer

  • Price home competitively based on similar sales
  • Market the property actively to find buyers quickly

Negotiating the Short Sale

  • Your agent negotiates with the bank(s)
  • Be prepared for extra demands from lenders
  • Multiple lenders must approve the sale

Closing the Sale

  • Inspections, appraisal must be completed
  • Lenders give final approval to close
  • You move out when sale completes

The short sale process involves lots of paperwork and patience. But it can help you avoid foreclosure and its severe credit impacts. With hard work and persistence, you can close a short sale successfully.

Benefits of Short Sales

Though challenging, short sales offer some advantages over foreclosure:

  • Less damage to credit - typically less than a foreclosure
  • Deficiency judgment less likely than with foreclosure
  • More control over move-out timeline than foreclosure
  • Allows time for an orderly transition

Short sales are complicated and require some sacrifice. But they cause less financial harm than a foreclosure. If you act quickly and get help, a short sale can be a better solution.

Advice from Tim

As a real estate agent with 17 years experience, I've helped many families in financial distress sell their home through a short sale.

It's never an easy process, but here are my top tips for making it as smooth as possible:

First, be honest and upfront with your agent about your situation. We can give the best advice when we understand your full financial picture.

Provide us with complete documentation so we can build the strongest case to the lender.

Next, get organized early. Gather all your financial statements in one place to streamline the application process. Being prepared with paperwork helps us meet lender deadlines.

Also, be ready to negotiate. Lenders may ask you to pay extra fees or take on more debt. But a good agent can fight for better terms on your behalf.

Don't hesitate to lean on our expertise during discussions.

Finally, trust the process. Short sales involve many moving parts and can be emotionally draining.

But stick with it - with teamwork and persistence, we can get your short sale closed successfully.

If you follow these steps and work closely with an experienced agent like myself, you can minimize stress and achieve the best possible outcome.

My team and I are always ready to help local homeowners just like you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a short sale?

A short sale is when you sell your home for less than you owe on the mortgage and the lender agrees to forgive the remaining balance.

How is a short sale different from foreclosure?

A short sale allows you to sell the home yourself before it goes to foreclosure. This avoids some of the legal processes and credit damage of a foreclosure.

What are the benefits of doing a short sale?

Benefits include avoiding foreclosure, less impact to your credit, and more control over the sale timeline. You may also avoid a deficiency judgment.

What documentation is needed for a short sale?

You'll need financial statements, tax returns, bank statements, hardship letter, bills, and any other proof of financial difficulties.

How long does the short sale process take?

It usually takes 2-4 months but can vary based on lender requirements. Complex cases with multiple mortgages can take longer.

Who has to approve a short sale?

The mortgage lender must approve it. If you have mortgage insurance or secondary loans, those companies must also approve the sale.

Does the seller have to pay taxes on forgiven debt?

Typically yes, the IRS considers forgiven mortgage debt as taxable income. There are some exceptions.

How much debt forgiveness can I get in a short sale?

It depends on the lender and specifics of the sale. There are no guarantees on how much debt will be forgiven.

Will a short sale hurt my credit score?

Yes, but generally not as severely as a foreclosure. The impact may be 100-150 points or less.

Should I rent the property back after closing?

Renting back can help you transition but also delays the bank taking ownership. Discuss options with your real estate agent.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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