Profile picture for TeriArnold

underwater home - what to do? short sale, foreclosure, keep?

After viewing and re-viewing 60 minutes story JUST WALK AWAY I have to admit that my eyes were opened to the fact that even though I love my home (purchased 8/08) it has gone down drastically in value/price.  I need to make a decision based on a few new facts: in search of employment - current job ended however I am 55 and could feasibly retire ., Why should I stay in my home which I really can't afford any longer or at least not right now plus I have HOA payments.  I really love my home. I've read not to get too attached to a home...that it is better to make a good financial decision for myself and my future.  I am going to apply for ther HARDEST HIT STATES funds which can help the unemployed for up to 1 year until a new job is found but what if that doesn't work out?  Wouldn't I be better off going for a short sale at least 120 days before foreclosure is set to occur and doing a deed in lieu of foreclosure and perhaps receiving some monies that I've heard many mortgage (and or banks...I'm not sure) are offering sellers to opt for a short sale.  I'm confused and mixed with that is a little fear.  Even though I feel I can find another job, I'm not sure I want to.  It might be nice to live with a little less and not have so many financial burdons.  I'm wondering if there are any other non-real estate folks out there experiencing my issues AND of course I'd love to hear from the pros as well.  Life might feel a little sweeter even if living meant living in a nice rental home or apartment considering I am at retirement age (barely) and I probably won't be able to make any money off my home in my lifetime.  It is a sad commentary on life today.  The American Dream has become an albatross around the American publics' neck.
  • September 03 2012 - Vacaville
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Answers (10)

Profile picture for Ofe Polack
A very personal decision to even try to tackle it.  It is all in your hands.  The best of luck!
  • September 03 2012
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Looking at the facts of your personal situation is a great start to making an informed decision. I've provided counsel to many homeowners with this dilemma. Each homeowner has had a different set of circumstances, no cookie cutter answers. Your goals are the most important consideration here. Having clarity about what you want for your future will help you tremendously. I understand the confusion that comes along with facing the decsion you are looking at. Not everyone has the knowledge or expertise to guide you to make a great decision. Keep the home, modify the loan, allow a foreclosure, do a deed in leiu, complete a short sale, these are options. All options need to be weighed out with regards to your personal goals. From this measurement you will be able to make the greater decision based on facts with a commitment to you and your outcome. I'm a local full time Realtor living in Vacaville CA. I'm also a Certified Distressed Property Expert. My advice and that of my team is sound and relevant to todays market conditions.
  • September 03 2012
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Certainly a very personal decision and not one to take lightly. You really need to talk your financial advisor and possibly a real estate attorney who understand the pros and cons of short sales and foreclosures.

Probably you should talk to your lender about a loan modification. In any case, it would be a good idea to talk with Terry (below) or somebody like him. Most Realtors with CDPE Certification are well versed in such matters plus it won't cost you anything to see what he has to say.
  • September 03 2012
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Hi Teri!

Certainly a tough decision that millions of American's are facing currently and one that takes not only a financial toll but an emotional one as well.  I'd start off by discussing your options with the bank and applying for the HARP 2.0 program where you can refinance your mortgage even if you owe more than its worth.  Second would be to try and modify, anything to get a lower payment in hopes that you could get into a better financial position to where you could stay in the home, if you really wanted to.

Short sale would be next and I would wait to miss any payments first as some lenders are allowing homeowners to do a short sale without missing any payments.  This will help protect your credit score and lessen the impact of any negative marks. 

Like the 60 minutes piece described, each homeowner looked at their overall long term goals to best suit their lives. 
  • September 03 2012
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I would check with a real estate attorney who specializes in short sales.  Not all do.  It is my understanding that a short sale requires you have a true hardship, meaning no cash, no job and a change in circumstance.  Even then, your lender may not agree to the short sale, and you won't know until you have a buyer will all the paperwork in for the lender to review.   That could be months down the line.  Some title companies have short sale experts who can walk you through whether you qualify before you begin the process.  Again, you may qualify with circumstance but it doesn't mean your lender will allow for it.  If you do qualify, you'll want to ask your bank for a short sale packet.   Further, not all lenders will do a 'deed in lieu".  The default amount could follow you wherever you go.  What you 'want' to do, and what you may be 'able' to do are two different things.  I would encourage you to talk to a title company or an attorney to help you decide.    
  • September 03 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
You need to get legal advice before you decide anything. Sometimes walking away is your best option, but you should not do that, agree to short sale or sign a loan modification until you get all your options. Short sale is often promoted as THE solution, but it is not the answer for everyone.

Your goal in making this decision should be to do whatever will put your finances back on track moving forward. It is not an easy decision, but getting all your options is the first step to making the right decision for your family.
  • September 04 2012
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Profile picture for TeriArnold
Wow!  All of the replies I received were excellent and I got to hear from a friend from my past...Hi Terry!  I do have a lot to think about in order to get a firm hold on exactly what will be best and most feasible for me in my current situation and with several 'unknowns' thrown in.  I'm going to focus on what situation will offer me the best solution for the least amount of stress.  I appreciate all of your replies. Talk to you soon! (Wish me luck on my decision making process).
  • September 04 2012
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Good luck on making the decision. It is not an easy one, but other people in a similar situation on Zillow seem to feel much better once they choose and start down the new path. Hang in there, get the info and it will get easier. :)
  • September 04 2012
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Well, I would walk away. It's so common these days and people are still getting new loans afterwards......
Not saying it's right......just common.
  • September 05 2012
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Profile picture for TeriArnold
Did you see the 60 Minutes program on the guys who started JUST WALK AWAY ?  It was really interesting and I'm not saying that it is 'right' either but what about the big banks getting bailed out and then were they hthere to help Americans and work with the HAMP Program , etc.?  Heck NO!  The banks are only thinking of one thing and we know what that is. I dont think I would feel any guilt if I did just walk away.  I'd probably try for the short sale instead.  Bye!
  • September 06 2012
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