In many instances, the best solution for a homeowner facing foreclosure is to sell his or her property to satisfy the underlying mortgage debt and conclude the foreclosure case. Because so many homeowners owe more on their homes than the property would bring at sale, the only practical solution is a “short sale” or a sale of the property for less than the balance of the mortgages on the property.
Although evidence is anectdotal at this point in time, most of the sales that are occuring in Pinellas and surrounding counites are short sales, or sales where the lenders have agreed to take less for the property than the balance of the outstanding mortgages. Short sales take considerably longer and are far more difficult to accomplish than a traditional sale so homeowners are urged to work with realtors who have experience in this unique area of property sales.
Having said that, realtors should carefully review Florida Statutes, Chapter 501.1377, Florida’s Foreclosure Rescue Act, https://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0501/SEC1377.HTM&Title=-%3E2009-%3ECh0501-%3ESection%201377#0501.1377 to ensure their actions do not violate the law because they could be subjected to fines and penalties of up to $15,000 per violation. Many realtors are working with or have some affiliation with “short sale consultants” or other individuals or companies that are engaging in activities that clearly violate the law and subject the consultant and everyone working with that person or company to fines and liabilities.
The bottom line is every realtor should include as part of their listing package specific and very clear instructions that any homeowner who is either in foreclosure or is close to foreclosure MUST hire a local real estate attorney to represent them in the foreclosure case. Failure to do so could subject the realtor, title company and everyone associated with the listing to liability from the homeowner and other sources.
Ideally, a realtor active in the short sale market should be actively working with an experienced foreclosure defense attorney who will help to ensure the foreclosure process is delayed long enough to allow the short sale to go through and who may be able to help force the lender to accept offers they might otherwise reject. For more information, contact Matt Weidner at www.mattweidnerlaw.com