While the economy has steadily improved over the course of the last decade or so, things are still not where they should be in many respects. As people experience financial hardships, some are forced to sell off assets, houses included—often for less than they are worth. This is referred to in real estate as a short sale, and it can be quite complex to navigate through on your own.
Short Sale Requirements
Many people are vastly unaware as to how complex a short sale can be, but it can be because there are not only questions regarding the nature of the asset for sale, but also the remainder of the debt or loan that is not being resolved by the short sale. Short sales are only successful if everyone involved (the seller, the bank or other entity holding the loan, and anyone else) agrees to take less money than they might otherwise make. However, a lender does not actually have to agree to a short sale in order for one to go forward, at least in Illinois; only the mortgage holder must agree, and the two are not always the same.
There are four items generally required in order to complete a short sale and obtain the mortgage lender’s permission. They are:
- A hardship letter, with an explanation of why the mortgage is in default;
- Proof that the property’s current value is less than the cost of the mortgage and closing costs;
- A showing that a buyer for the property exists, and that buyer is not related to the seller; and
- Credible testimony that there is no better alternative.
The third item can be a concern in particular, as it is not unknown to simply transfer an asset to a friend or family member as a sort of surreptitious trust; such actions are illegal under the Illinois Fraudulent Transfer Act. These factors all being met do not necessarily guarantee a successful short sale, but they greatly increase the odds that all involved will be able to come to a consensus.
After a Short Sale
Assuming the sale itself goes according to plan, you will still be left with the question of the remaining balance on the mortgage. In Illinois, this may be disposed of in two ways. The lender will either forgive the debt—usually not out of a sense of altruism, but rather because it is possible for them to write it off—or they will try to seek a deficiency judgment. A deficiency judgment is just what it sounds like, where the lender files a civil suit in order in an attempt to collect the remaining balance due on the mortgage.
In a short sale, it is possible to insert language into the offer letter agreeing to waive any remaining liability, but unlike some other states, such as California, this is not required. If a deficiency judgment is entered against you, your wages may be garnished, your bank account may be levied (frozen) and in extreme cases, you may have assets or other financial instruments seized to make up the difference.
Contact a Wheaton Real Estate Attorney
Real estate can be an extraordinarily complex area of law, and a short sale can be one of the most intricate and difficult enterprises to undertake, especially alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County real estate lawyer at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC today. Our knowledgeable professionals can help guide you through the short sale process, and answer any questions you may have along the way.