Should You Do a Loan Modification or a Sacramento Short Sale?

Maybe Yes No Keys Representing DecisionsMany underwater sellers in Sacramento, by 2013, have most likely tried to do a loan modification or have successfully closed on a short sale. I suspect most of the extreme financial hardships have been resolved and the strategic short sales have been executed or denied by this late date, because many homes have been underwater in Sacramento since 2005-2006. That was the first wave. The next big decline happened in 2008.

Five to 9 years is a long time to struggle with an underwater home. Because of today’s marketplace in Sacramento, some of the borderline underwater homes are turning into equity sales. However, if your home value has fallen by 50% or more, I don’t see any hope for you. Can’t sugar coat this. You won’t regain that equity in my lifetime. There are basically 3 ways out and with few exceptions, only the short sale is the permanent solution.

You either do a HARP refinance (if your loan is Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) a loan modification or a short sale. If you do a loan modification or a refinance (with the refinance really being a loan mod in disguise), the only thing that really makes sense is if the lender will reduce your principal balance, erase a good chunk of it. Because if not, you’re simply reaffirming a humongous debt that you’ll never ever repay unless you live in that house until you die. And even then, you’ll pay twice as much as you needed to pay. Most banks will NOT reduce a principal balance.

You might wonder why would banks give you a HARP refinance or a loan modification if it wasn’t a good deal for you? Because they don’t give a crap and they want to stop their own bleeding. Banks don’t really care about you. They care about their stockholders and whether the government will continue to sue them, and all sorts of others things, but not you.

You also can’t pursue a loan modification when you’re trying to do a short sale. I had an investor client start out to do an FHA short sale about 6 months ago. We were getting him preapproved for the ATP before going on the market. Mid-stream, ?he decided he wanted to do a full-blown loan modification, so we had to drop the short sale. Not only that, but he was advised not to do the loan modification because he did not live in the property, and FHA will not do a loan modification for a homeowner who does not reside in the home. I sent the homeowner the HUD guidelines, which clearly stated such, but he wanted a miracle and was hoping for something magical to happen. I understand that homeowners are confused and directionless at times.

His loan modification was denied, of course. But getting that denial did make it easier to get him the Approval to Participate in an FHA short sale. I am working with several other sellers who were granted loan modifications and are now waking up to the fact that they will never get out from being underwater. They will always owe all of that money! And some of them no longer can afford to pay the minimum or reduced payments under the loan modification.

The Rip Van Winkle loan modifiers in Sacramento are waking up. That loan modification is not a very good deal for you, is it?

If you’ve got a loan modification that is cause for concern and you want to dump that home so you can buy the same type of home again in two years and be done with this mess, call me. I can put an end to this suffering. I’ve been doing Sacramento short sales since 2006 and have closed hundreds. Last year, I sold $32 million. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.

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