Banks Realize Short Sales Are Better Than Foreclosure, Pay Homeowners To Sell Now

It’s been nearly a half decade since the housing market imploded like an old stadium packed with explosives and the ground is still rumbling from the impact. Realizing it’s better to recover some money now rather than trying to get all their cash back eventually, more banks are making it easier for homeowners to unload their houses for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

So-called short sales are traditionally a nightmare to all involved parties. Homeowners have had to jump through hoops at uncooperative banks who stubbornly insisted a buyer could be found who would be willing to pay the full amount remaining on the loan. Home buyers often balked at even making offers on short sale properties, knowing it could take months of waiting just to find out the bank didn’t approve the deal.

But according to Bloomberg, banks have come to see that it might make more sense to unload the property ASAP rather than go through the lengthy foreclosure and auction process.

Thus, banks are now pre-approving some short sales which cuts down the amount of time it takes to close on the deal. Some banks are also forgoing their right to pursue unpaid debt and occasionally providing large cash incentives.

Bloomberg has the story of one underwater homeowner who received a letter from JPMorgan Chase declaring, “You could sell your home, owe nothing more on your mortgage and get $30,000.”

So she took the deal and the bank sold her home for $200,000 less than what was owed on the mortgage — and she walked away with $30K that she’ll be using to move and make a deposit on the rental she’ll move into once she closes later this week.

“I wondered, why would they offer me something, and why wouldn’t they just give me the boot?” she tells Bloomberg. “Instead, I’m getting money.”

“When a modification is not possible, a short sale produces a better and faster result for the homeowner, the investor and the community than a foreclosure,” explained a rep for Chase.

In the last two years, short sales have jumped from only 2% of U.S. residential transactions to 9%.

Banks Pay Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosures [Bloomberg]