Short Selling A House – 7 Steps That Helped Me Avoid Foreclosure

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Short selling your home is not a decision you should make lightly. It is often a difficult and long process. If you are successful, the difference between what you sell the house for and what you owe on the house is forgiven. You’ll also avoid a foreclosure on your record.

My Story

Near the tail end of 2006, after 3 years of day trading and some big losses and large loans, I was unable to keep up my mortgage payments. My debt was only getting worse, and I knew I had to do something to avoid foreclosure on my home. I connected up with a real estate agent that only did short sales, and did a lot of research online as to what the process would entail. In June of 2006 I sold my home for nearly $100,000 less than what I owed at the time. It wasn’t an easy process by any means, but I feel it was the best option for my situation, and likely for many others now facing foreclosure. A short sale can be the best option for all parties involved (you, the bank, investors, etc) when you can’t keep up with your mortgage payments.


I am not an attorney or a real estate agent. I’m just an average Joe who went through short selling my home. You should seek professional council for the issues discussed here!

Step 1 – Get Educated

You need to know your options when it comes to your home. If you want to keep your house, but can’t make the payments and you owe more than your home is worth, you may look into filing bankruptcy. This will stay the foreclosure process (not forever) and may allow you to stay in your home and repay your lender under different terms.

Deed in Lieu

If you owe more than the home is worth, this is not an option for you. Deed in Lieu means that you give up the house to the bank and walk away. Ie, you give up the deed instead of facing foreclosure.

Short Sale

If you owe more than your home is worth, and don’t want to declare bankruptcy or face foreclosure, then a short sale of your home is the best option. A short sale does have potential tax implications.

Step 2 – Get Some Help

This is probably the biggest tip I would give to people who want to sell their home in a short sale. FIND AN EXPERIENCED REAL ESTATE AGENT WHO HAS DONE A SHORT SALE BEFORE. Your real estate agent will be able to deal and negotiate with the mortgage company(ies) on your behalf. An experienced short sale agent will give you a much better chance of successfully short selling your home.

Because there is often so many different entities involved in a mortgage (1st mortgage, 2nd mortgage, the investor on the loan, etc) you really don’t want to do this on your own, with no experience. Plus, you’ll never have any out of pocket expenses to pay an agent, as everything is essentially paid by the lender.

WARNING! Just because an agent says they specialize in “short sales” does not mean they have actually successfully done one! There are many classes agents attend regarding short sales, but nothing compares to real world experience.

Step 3 – Get Started Now

The longer you wait to get started with the short sale process the less chance you have of success. Every state is different with their foreclosure process. You need to decide quickly to start the short sale process if you’re getting behind on your payments, or have already received a notice of default.

Step 4 – Follow Instructions Exactly

An experienced short sale agent will tell you what you need to do to get the house ready to sell. Don’t get too hung up about the price. If the agent wants to set a low price on the house, there is a reason behind that.

In my own short sale, we priced the house pretty low and got an offer very quickly. You need a buyer that is willing to stick around for a super long closing or changes to the agreement. In my case, it took almost 4 months from when we got the offer to when the closing took place. Don’t get hung up about the price, all you should care about is getting the place sold.

Step 5 – Know The Tax Implications

Congress recently passed and the president signed a law that likely releases you from any tax implications of a short sale.

Talk to a qualified tax attorney or CPA about this for your particular situation. Your real estate agent should know about this! A good agent will have a quality referral for you to handle the tax implications of your short sale.

Step 6 – Prepare to move quickly

Because your closing date may not be set in stone, you need to be prepared to leave your home quickly if needed. You do not want to end up like me and live in your office for 2 months! Trust me, it’s not fun!

A minimalist lifestyle is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact it should be venerated. Your possessions are just inanimate things; it’s the relationships in your life that really matter. OK, enough life advice! Sell anything you don’t need or haven’t used in the last 6 months on craigslist! The less you have to deal with on moving day the better.

Step 7 – Prepare yourself emotionally

If you are already in default, or have a foreclosure pending, this whole scenario and process of trying to short sell your home can be very emotionally draining.

You will receive solicitations from everyone and their mother. You may have people stop by your home while you are still there. It can be a very difficult process.

Make sure you have people in your life to talk to about your situation. You will need a support network to help through this time in your life. It will pass. And you are being proactive in seeking a short sale of your home. You are taking the right steps, and in time, everything will work out. I can’t promise it will be easy, but you will make it!

You Need An Experienced Short Sale Agent!

From my blog here I’ve developed an extensive network of real estate agents that have short sale experience. If you’d like a referral, fill out the form below and I’ll have someone available in your area to help with your short sale ASAP.

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  • Ann Thornton

    I have been a real estate agent in Jacksonville, Florida for over 25 years. My 34 year old son is now in need of a short sell. I have been involved a little but I am looking forward to walking through this with him to learn more because I would like to be on your referral list of agents who do short sells. Your article helped me so much and has given me so much hope. I can tell you are a good person and keep up the good work. Ann Thornton. I am trying to set up an email account but at this time I do not have one.

  • lxoevxy of sj

    Its good thing i read your blog about your experience on ss, Im not on default yet,but Im having a hardship to make up with my mortgage,I talked to an agent about ss,I wanna know If im likely to release from tax implications,well,my agent reffered me to a cpa(and its hard to get hold of him),I dont have assets,I have mortgage" Im just afraid that the irs will run after me after ss just incase the bank will forgive the difference of what i owe.