According to the Corelogic Insights blog, the volume of distressed home sales is declining. Consider that during the peak of distressed sales, which occurred in January 2009, the volume of distressed sales nationally comprised 32.4% of total home sales. Compare those figures to Corelogic’s December 2nd report, which indicated that nationwide distressed sales volume accounted for about 10% of all home sales during September 2015. However, distressed sales volume varies from state to state; Maryland recorded the highest volume of distressed sales (20.7%) among all states during September.
Distressed home sales include bank owned properties (REO) and short sales. It’s important to note that prior to the housing bust in 2007, nationwide REO sales were below 6.2% of all sales. September nationwide REO’s accounted for 6.4% of all sales; while short sales accounted for 3.3% of all sales, and have maintained below the 4% level for over a year.
The plateau of short sales may be due the many home owners who remain underwater. In a June 11th press release, Zillow announced that the slow pace of increasing home prices are leaving many home owners underwater. The nationwide rate of negative equity among mortgaged home owners was 15.4% during the first quarter of 2015 (which is down from 18.8% a year ago); the negative equity rate in the D.C. metro area was reported to be 17.2%. For about half of all underwater home owners, home prices would need to increase 20% or more for them to break even (zillow.com/research).
If you are underwater on your mortgage, check with your lender, they may have some options to help you. However, if you are planning a move, a short sale may also be an option. Simply put, a short sale is asking your lender to take a lower payoff and “forgive” the difference.
If you decide to go through the short sale process, you should know that your sale will be subject to your lender’s approval. The lender will decide if they will accept the buyer’s offer based on the home’s “fair market value.” Many lenders use broker price opinions to assist them in determining a sale price; however some lenders may use other avenues.
You should be aware of a recent trend used by some lenders, which is bypassing the short sale process and forcing home sellers to list short sales on auction websites – even if there is an existing contract of sale! The given rationale is that the internet auction process provides a fair market value for the short sale. However, this stance by some lenders may lead some home sellers to breach of contract. In a recent conversation with several local (Maryland) state regulators, the present consensus is that “…they are aware of the situation, but there is nothing they can do about it;” however, they welcome consumer complaints: MD Commissioner of Financial Regualtion and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Even though the concept is straightforward and the government has provided lenders guidance on short sales, the process can still be lengthy and full of surprises. The process does not guarantee a sale, and the lender could still foreclose if you stopped paying the mortgage. Additionally, the short sale may negatively affect your credit; and there may be legal liabilities to consider. So, before you embark on a short sale, you should consult an attorney about all of your options (which may include and is not limited to a loan modification, deed-in-lieu, or bankruptcy).
By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2015
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.