5 Things to Know About Florida Short Sales in 2012 for Sellers and Buyers of Florida Homes

Posted By on January 12, 2012

Last Update: 02/24/16

In Florida, short sales are growing in popularity now that lenders realize the expense and difficulty of dealing with a foreclosed home, and because so many other homes are at risk for foreclosure their is a likelihood that the inventory will continue to grow.  Also, banks rather have a home sold by short sale than implementing the formal foreclosure process because of the expense of litigation and the amount of time it takes prosecute a foreclosure in Florida. For details on how 2012 may become known as the year of the Short Sale, check out our earlier post, “Should You Short Sale Your Home in 2012.”

As a South Florida real estate lawyer with a history of dealing with distressed property, as well as representing sellers and buyers in ordinary real estate closings, here are a few tips and bits of information that may be helpful to anyone pondering a short sale:

1.  Does the bank have a right of first refusal on any short sale?

No.  The lender must approve the transaction to the extent that it is releasing its rights for an amount that is less than what is due.  However, that okay from the bank is a precondition to the sale going through, it is not a contractual right like a “right of first refusal.”  In most real estate transactions, a right like that is usually held by other potential buyers who have the right to come in and buy the property if he or she can meet the terms offered by a third party.  For example, a family homestead may have the children holding rights of first refusal before the home can be sold to a stranger.

2.  Are listing agreements with a real estate broker different in a short sale?

They can and should be.  Real estate brokers do not have blanket contracts; each realtor will have its own paperwork, and within it, they may have different terms depending upon the situation.  Since everyone is making less money on a short sale, some Florida realtors may choose to have a contract term in their deal:  for example, the listing agreement may state that once a purchase contract has been signed by a seller and a buyer the realtor’s job is done and they have earned their commission.  They have no duty to bring any additional offers to the buyer.  No waiting to make sure the lender okays the deal.  A term like that isn’t friendly to a seller who is trying to negotiate a deficiency waiver with their bank.

3.  Can you present an unsigned offer to the lender for approval of the short sale before you sign onto the deal as the seller?

Maybe.  Some, very few, banks will let sellers know if they will agree to the short sale’s terms (i.e., PRICE) without a formal purchase contract but most lenders will require a contract before they get involved.  Your Florida short sale attorney will know the reputation of the lender as well as their quirks, and be able to let you know what your bank will tend to do.

4.  Can you short sale your Florida home even though you are current on your mortgage payments?

Yes.  It’s possible to short sale a Florida home with an underwater mortgage even though you haven’t missed a single mortgage payment.  The key is whether or not the lender is going to be amenable to it.  Why should the bank go for a short sale on a mortgage that is paid every month?  If your Florida attorney can negotiate with the lender, getting them to understand that they will be facing the expense of foreclosure in the future if they don’t go with the short sale option, then a short sale may be possible even though you are current on your mortgage.

5.  What are the tax implications of a short sale?

Right now, a successful Florida short sale includes getting the bank to forego the deficiency and release its right to sue the home owner for the amount left on the note after the house is sold (the “deficiency lawsuit”).  That amount is not taxed as income by the federal government if certain requirements are met.

However, as of December 31, 2012, that ends.  Starting in 2013, any amount forgiven by the bank will be considered as taxable income under the federal tax laws. Something to consider especially if you are on the fence and are thinking about a short sale.

A good piece of advice when you and your family are purchasing or selling your family home in one of the biggest transactions of your life is to at least talk with a Florida real estate lawyer. Getting someone to review all of the paperwork including the all important promissory note, isn’t as costly as most of us think it is. And it’s always a lot cheaper than paying to fix a problem after a closing occurs.  Most real estate lawyers, like Larry Tolchinsky, offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.

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Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Larry an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.

 

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Comments

6 Responses to “5 Things to Know About Florida Short Sales in 2012 for Sellers and Buyers of Florida Homes”

  1. Corina says:

    Larry, excellent article. I didn’t know that it was possible to do a short sale with a lender without being severely late on payments.

  2. Gina says:

    Larry:
    Can an attorney representing a financial institution that bought a “foreclosure” (the note) give another third party a “right of first refusal” when it goes on the MLS. This happened to us. We were the succesful bidder on a property, only to hear that a “friend” of the attorney representing the seller (a financial institution) was given a right of first refusal.

  3. winona says:

    on the brighter side, this is definitely the possibility for house buyers to get a house that in a much cheaper price in contrast of shopping for a normal home. If you’re one of the dwelling hunters attempting to own an affordable household, then a short sale property may be one of your alternatives. Even though this appears good, it’s significant that you still have to consider the operation. You’ve got to be persevering since this is not just a normal deal given that you have to wait for the lender or the bank’s approval along with your offer that may take month or two before you will receive their response.
    houses for sale santa ana

  4. Darcy says:

    In a short sale, is it possible for the home owner that is selling the house to walk away with some money to relocate? I have read different articles that say at times this is possible.

  5. Hi Darcy,
    Short sales are tricky here in Florida, there’s lots of legal issues to consider in addition to personal concerns (financial, emotional, etc.) — and you’re not the first person to ask about how an owner in a short sale can cover relocation costs. It’s a real conundrum these days – by definition, a short sale is selling the property for less than the mortgage amount, so the owner is walking away from the closing table in the red and possibly with a deficiency lawsuit in his or her future. So, how can they grab some cash to move and start fresh?

    Stuff for a post, sounds like. Stay tuned.
    Thanks for writing,
    Larry

  6. Mercy says:

    Can a consulting firm that does not have an attorney negotiate and charge a fee for the short sale

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