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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Banks: No exceptions for short sales

NEW YORK – Sept. 22, 2008 – Increasingly, sellers seeking short sales are encountering a new twist.

Lenders are agreeing to let some short sales go through, but they want the home owners to sign a note promising to pay some or all of the balance due – debts that could burden borrowers for the rest of their lives.

Moody’s Economy.com estimates that about 10 million homeowners have negative equity, a condition known colloquially as being upside down or underwater. By next June, the forecasting company expects the total to rise to 12.7 million – a quarter of all homeowners who have mortgages.

“The first wave of foreclosures involved a lot of investors who just disappeared,” says Lance Churchill of Frontline Seminars, which teaches real estate practitioners how to negotiate with lenders on short sales. “Now, homeowners with jobs and assets are underwater and want to sell. The banks want as much as they can get, today or in the future, and the owners want to get away clean.”

If the lender does a short sale without extracting anything from the seller, everyone in the country who is upside down could try to wiggle out from under and banks will take a fresh wave of hits. But if the lender pushes too hard, the borrower will default, leaving the bank in worse shape.

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