When trying to sell an upside down condo or underwater home, consider all your options and how short selling or foreclosing you property could affect your credit.
Q: I currently own and live in a condominium. But I want to sell my condominium and buy a house. But because I’m upside down in my condo, I’m not able to sell it and buy a house. I don’t have any problems paying my mortgageA Mortgage is a document granting a lien on a home in exchange for financing granted by a lender. The mortgage is the means by which the lender secures the loan and has the ability to foreclose on the home. and my credit is excellent.
I was wondering if it would be reasonable for me to approach my lenderA Lender is a person, company, corporation, or entity that lends money for the purchase of real estate. and inquire about any foreclosures they have on their books. I was thinking I could do a “trade-in” and have them take my condo for one of their foreclosed houses.
I know that the house would be more expensive and I’m prepared for a bigger mortgage. Is something like this possible? Or, do you have any suggestions? I don’t want to be a landlord. It seems as though there are different options for people who are struggling or made bad home buying decisions, but seems to be nothing for those who have been responsible in making all their payments, but are upside down in their mortgage.
A: This is a great question. You’d think that lenders would fly to embrace your idea of trading one property for another, but the reality is quite different. The housing bubble burst and left many real estateReal Estate is land and anything permanently attached to it, such as buildings and improvements. lenders holding mortgages on properties that are worth far less than the underlying debt. You are underwater with your home. That is you owe more to your lender that your home is worth. As you said, you’re upside down and to get out from under you’ll have to come to closing with cash.
Unfortunately, you as a consumer see your big box lender as “your” lender, when the reality is that your big box lender is servicing the loanA Loan is an amount of money that is lent to a borrower, who agrees to repay it plus interestInterest is money charged for the use of borrowed funds. Usually expressed as an interest rate, it is the percentage of the total loan charged annually for the use of the funds.. for a pool of investors. In fact, your loan could be part of several investment pools.
Due to the way mortgage loans were sold and continue to be sold, the actual holder of the mortgage to your home may be a group of investors. It’s hard enough to get that group of investors to allow a homeowner to sell his home in a short sale, it would be doubly hard to get them to agree to release the debt on your home and agree to give you a new loan on a different, albeit distressed, home.
Here’s why: When you obtain a loan on one property, you sign a promissory note to the lender and promise to repay the debt. The lender in turn requests that you sign over your home as collateral for that debt. The whole process would break down when you ask the lender to let you go from one home to another home and “keep” the same debt. The lender actually has to release the lienA Lien is an encumbrance against the property, which may be voluntary or involuntary. There are many different kinds of liens, including a tax lien (for unpaid federal, state, or real estate taxes), a judgment lien (for monetary judgments by a court of law), a mortgage lien (when you take out a mortgage), and a mechanic's lien (for work done by a contractor on the property that has not been paid for). For a lien to be attached to the property's title, it must usually be filed or recorded with a local county government office. they have on your current home and if you became the owner of a new home, the lender would have to obtain a new lien on that home as well.
Basically, you’d be selling your old home and buying a new home. While you might think that your lender could do a swap, the lender would see both transactions as independent. For the purchase of the new home, the lender would want to review all of your financials and qualify you for that new purchase.
Even if you could argue that your condominium is worth $100,000 with a debt of $120,000 and you were looking at a home worth the same amount, the lender would have trouble giving you a loan of $120,000 on a home worth $100,000. In theory, if you were dealing with a family member giving you the loan on one and giving you a loan on the other, you could see it happening, but in the world that lenders live in, it would not be possible.
However, you bring up a different issue in your question. If you have no equityYour share of ownership in a company. Stockholders are often referred to as equity investors, because they invest in the equity of a company. in your current home, but have savings and you were willing to use those savings to make your current lender whole, you could sell your condo at a loss, then buy the home.
Few consumers might have the cash to sell their current homes at a loss, but if your condominium is worth $100,000 and you have a debt of $120,000 on it, it might take about $30,000 to come out from under your current ownershipOwnership is the absolute right to use, enjoy, and dispose of property. You own it! of the condominium and then buy a home.
Let’s say you have that cash available and more. You could do it and not suffer any negative consequences to your credit history or credit score. While most people would think it would be crazy to put good money into getting out of your condominium, there are homeowners with cash that have done just that.
We see it as the reverse of what happened during the boom real estate years. In those years, people would sell their existing homes for a profit and move into homes that are more expensive. Frequently, those same homeowners would plow more money into buying those expensive homes.
Well, in this scenario, you would do just the opposite. Keep in mind that people are less willing to lose money psychologically than put more money into buying a home when prices are rising. But if you’d be willing to sell a home for $150,000 to buy a larger home for $250,000 – a $100,000 difference – you might be willing to do the same at a loss if you were to sell your current home for $100,000 to buy that larger home for $175,000. Now the difference might only be $75,000.
You’d have to evaluate your financial situation and determine whether you have the ability to pay off your existing lender in whole and still have enough money to buy the new home.
If you can’t swing it, then your other choice is to sell your current home in a short sale, take the credit history and credit score hit, rent a home, then wait for your credit history to recover and reenter the market to buy a home. In a short sale, you are able to sell your underwater (upside down) property and move on.
By the way, some people might suggest that you not sell your current home in a short sale and merely buy your other home with cheap financing at today’s rates, then let the home go into foreclosureForeclosure is the legal action taken to extinguish a home owner's right and interest in a property, so that the property can be sold in a foreclosure sale to satisfy a debt. or then sell the home in a short sale. Unfortunately, if you elect to go down that path, you will end up hurting your credit score and credit history and in some parts of the country, you’d risk having the lender come after you for the deficiency left behind when the lender wasn’t paid in full.
Given that you have great credit now, you might want to talk to a mortgage lender or mortgage brokerA Mortgage Broker is a company or individual that brings together lenders and borrowers and processes mortgage applications. in your area to see what options that person thinks might be available for you.