A short sale is when a bank or mortgage lender agrees to discount a loan balance due to an economic or financial hardship on the part of the mortgagor. This negotiation is all done through communication with a bank’s loss mitigation department. The home owner/debtor sells the mortgaged property for less than the outstanding balance of the loan, and turns over the proceeds of the sale to the lender in full satisfaction of the debt. In such instances, the lender would have the right to approve or disapprove of a proposed sale.
Extenuation circumstances influence whether or not banks will discount a loan balance. These circumstances are usually related to the current real estate market climate and the individual borrower’s financial situation.
A short sale typically is executed to prevent a home foreclosure. Often a bank will choose to allow a short sale if they believe that it will result in a smaller financial loss than foreclosing. For the home owner, the advantages include avoidance of having foreclosure on their credit history and the partial control of the monetary deficiency. Additionally, a short sale is typically faster and less expensive than a foreclosure. In short, a short sale is nothing more than negotiating with lien holders a payoff for less than what they are owed, or rather a sale of a debt, generally on a piece of real estate, short of the full debt amount.
Creditors, their surrogates, and those who politically benefit from the mortgage industry – especially those in the real-estate, mortgage servicing, and banking wrongly portray short sales as difficult to complete or morally questionable. This is simply untrue if the value of the underlying asset, a home, has fallen dramatically and debtor has limited assets. Short sales are extraordinarily common in standard business transactions in recognition that creditors are not doing debtors a favor but, rather, engaging in a business transaction when extending credit. When it makes no business sense or is economically not feasible to retain an asset businesses default on their loans (called bonds). It is not uncommon for business bonds to trade on the after-market for a small fraction of their face value in realization of the likelihood of these future defaults.