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Real estate attorney maryland Short Sale Hardship Requirements-An Introduction

24th February 2010
By absolutebeauty in Real Estate Law
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A short sale is the sale of a house in which the proceeds fall short of what the owner still owes on the mortgage.

I'd like to make you familiar with the hardship tests required to qualify a home owner for a short sale. This information will help you understand the market better as an investor and aid you in zeroing in on the best deals.

As you might expect, lenders are not happy about short sales because, like anyone else, they hate losing money! That means they consider a short sale a last resort, and they're going to make sure the defaulting owner meets their hardship tests before anything else happens. Below, I cover the typical tests that must be met before a property qualifies for a short sale:

Poor or Bad Health Chronic or catastrophic health issues can overwhelm a family and its finances. With today's rapidly rising medical costs, it doesn't take long to empty a family's bank account. When this occurs, debts mount quickly, and soon the borrower is unable to meet the mortgage payment.

Death The death of a spouse, especially if he or she was the primary bread winner, can create havoc on a family's finances, especially if they bought too much house to begin with.

Divorce Divorce can be expensive. In some cases, when income drops dramatically, this requires that a jointly-owned home be sold.

Military Call Ups When soldiers are called up, their income can take significant hit, especially if they're required to endure long tours of duty. Note: Lenders consider this a true hardship since it's out of the control of the borrower and in service of the country.

Job Transfer In some cases, an employer transfers a borrower to another area and his or salary drops instead of increasing. If the owner is unable to sell or rent the property, then the hardship test is met.

Disability When a borrower suffers an injury or disease bad enough to cripple or eliminate income, then, obviously, he or she can't meet the mortgage payments, and the property is taken back.

Job Loss When borrowers lose their jobs due to downsizing, company closings, or other factors, they're often unable to meet mortgage payments because most haven't saved enough to cover expenses.

Other Factors Beyond the hardship test listed above, there are sometimes other factors involved in producing short sales.

One is that a property was bought at an inflated price. In the meantime, the market has dropped dramatically due to negative economic conditions.

Another factor occurs when a property has been refinanced at, for example, 125% of value, and that value was based on an over-inflated property appraisal report. Then, the area in which the home is located takes a severe economic hit, dramatically dropping property values.

A third factor takes place when, due to economic conditions (local or national) beyond the owner's control, the home's value has dropped to a value below the loan balance.

A fourth factor relates to the "as-is condition of the property. Sometimes, properties deteriorate almost beyond repair, making it next to impossible for the lender to put it back into resale condition.

A final factor prompting a short sale is when the purchase price of the home is more than the lender is able to sell the property for after foreclosure.

Short sales aren't a terribly happy time for anyone for obvious reasons--except the knowledgeable investor. But, keep in mind that short sale opportunities tend to be infrequent when compared to other types of investments. Yes, you can pick up some great bargains, but you will definitely have to invest more "sweat equity" in terms of time and patience than, say, foreclosures, rehabs, and other forms of deals.

Key Concept: Be completely familiar with the entire short sale process before engaging in any deals.

Jack Sternberg is the creator of the renowned "Buyers First Program". As the "gurus' guru", he is well known by the professional creative real estate community as "Obi-Won Kenobi". Having been a full time investor since 1977, Mr. Sternberg has been "at" the closing table more than 1,500 times. Mr. Sternberg has the depth of experience that lend value to his associations. Contact Mr. Sternberg at

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