For thousands of homeowners who are helplessly behind on their mortgage payments or upside down on the mortgage balance versus equity, a short sale is a welcome alternative to a foreclosure judgment. In order to sell your home for less than what it is worth, you need your lender's written consent. This is a process that can take from 90 to 120 days after a valid contract has been submitted to the lender.
It can be a daunting task to meet the requirements: financial documentation, disclosures, addendums. However, it is well worth the effort and can result in a complete write off of the mortgage. The question is "who should handle this process for you?" Do you hire an attorney or just let whoever your realtor/title company use?
With recent reports of arrests in connection with fraud in short sale closings, it makes you stop and think. Apparently, counerfeit approval letters were being provided by the processors to close short sale transactions. After the parties were paid, the lenders (not having issued an approval), of course refused to release the liens on the property and most importantly, were still holding the sellers liable for the debt. It seems every time consumers are faced with a new hardship, someone finds another way to take advantage of them.
An attorney, who answers to governing authorities such as the BAR Association, is held in higher standards and accountability to the public. While a facilitator can submit your short sale request to the lender and update you on its progress, he/she cannot negotiate on your part. You need licensed, legal counsel to represent you.
Another reason for hiring a lawyer during this process is that he/she can provide foreclosure defense as well. This representation may be able to provide the additional time in order to finalize and close your short sale, thus avoiding a foreclosure judgment.
Does it cost more to hire an attorney? Most likely there will be a retainer fee due but most fees are collected through the lender (in the loan payoff). Occasionally, the buyer may be asked to pay a portion as well. However, during this time of distress, a retainer fee may represent the "peace of mind" you need.
For further information regarding short sales, contact Florida Consumer Law Center at (813) 868-3484 or visit our site at www.FloridaConsumerLawCenter.com.