Virginia Short Sale Laws You Should Know About


Foreclosures, short sales and bank claimed properties are making up a bigger rate of the stock of accessible properties nowadays. We felt immune for quite a while, but these entrenched correction has also had an effect here in Virginia. Here are some basic things you should know about short sale and their disposition.

  1. If it’s a deal you want, risk is a part of the equation. When you get hold of a foreclosure in Va, you are buying it “as is” which could include unfiled technicians liens or some other clouds on title. Vigorous research which includes property inspections and also title work offers you some idea on the deficiencies, but there tend to be no guarantees and no recourse should you be surprised. Still, picking up home for well underneath market value and also turning them into rentals is usually an excellent investment for the people with the assets to rehabilitate these properties and wait for the marketplace to rebound.
  2. REOs or bank owned properties are usually those properties that have gone through the particular foreclosure process and also have been bought back by the bank. These properties are generally in better situation than foreclosures because the banks are likely to protect their assets to some extent. They are most often listed with Realtors in order that they are easily accessible for viewings. These “bank assets” are usually priced below market value to go fast. REOs often possess multiple offers when they come available on the market. Astute buyers realize that they cannot expect any concessions either in price tag or repairs, and if needed financing they should present a full loan application with the financial institution that owns the home with their authentic contract.
  3. A short sale occurs when a seller cannot acquire enough money from the sale to pay off existing debt. If the seller has no other assets to go after, the bank can agree to let the property go for a price lower than what is owed. It may happen that you negotiate with the owner of the house, and you would have a ratified contract with the owner, but you do not have a deal until the bank has signed off on the short sale. Short sales are clearly more attractive to banks compared to foreclosures which cost banks $50, 000 on average and will become less cumbersome in the foreseeable future as banks recognize the necessity of moving inventory.

So, you need to sell a short sale in Virginia, here are few regulations you should know about:

  1. The Short Sales Request

Homeowners who would like to try a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure must request permission for this from their loan provider. Lenders will often approve a short sale to stay away from the lengthy and costly means of foreclosure and avoid getting the home as a real estate owned property.

Lenders will most likely approve the short sale of the home. Home owners who ask for a short sale from their bank may be required to prove financial hardship such as a job loss or medical bills. Home owners might also need to provide the lender with pay stubs and also bank statements.

  1. Deficiency Lawsuit

Homeowners who sell their apartment through the short sale process may want to obtain information on paper from their lender regarding credit rating and deficiencies. Once the property is sold this way, there will certainly be a difference in the actual loan amount plus the amount received in the short sale; this is generally known as a deficiency.

Virginia lenders may file case against the homeowner for the amount of the deficiency, unless the homeowner receives a statement in writing that the lender won’t sue for a new deficient balance. Lenders often report a short sale as satisfaction on the debt. However, lenders may report this short sale as settled at under the full sense of balance owed, which can damage the homeowner’s credit rating. This may certainly be a better option than foreclosure, which can stick to the homeowner’s credit report for up to 10 years.

  1. Taxation

Homeowners in Virginia should seek the advice of a tax professional before obtaining approval for a short sale. When a house is sold in a short sale, the lender may claim the amount of the debt that had been forgiven as income provided to the homeowner. This means that homeowners may be forced to pay tax on this amount the following year. Homeowners who meet standards of insolvency by the IRS at the time of the short sale cannot be required to pay tax on this amount.

  1. Real Estate Brokers

There is absolutely no state law that will require you to hire a licensed agent to sell your home in a short sale. The bank however might have to have that you list your home for sale with a local real estate professional to ensure you are undertaking everything possible to have fair market value for that property. They can’t force you to list your home with an agent, but they can refuse a short sale if you don’t.

  1. Financial Info

For the most part the bank will need to see that you don’t have the ability to keep on making your credit installments until it is paid off as concurred when you acquired the cash. Because of this they will need to see a reason for you to sell your home. If you claim that you cannot afford to make your payments, they will require proof. This is done by having you supply tax returns, bank statements, and recent paystubs and a short sale hardship letter. There are some short sale programs that require a restricted measure of documentation which would dispose of the need to supply private financial documentation.

Short Sale and Divorce – what you need to know by Christian M Lapham

Even in intact marriages, selling real estate can be a stressful process.  As one would imagine, dealing with the sale of real estate in a separation or divorce context can be particularly difficult, given the additional legal and emotional challenges.  Fortunately, there are a number of valuable suggestions which can significantly reduce the cost and frustration of selling one’s home during a divorce.

As in all issues in separation and divorce, you have two options for how to resolve the sale of your home.  The preferable option is for you and your spouse to execute a formal agreement outlining the sales procedure as well as the allocation of equity (or debt) in a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.  This is a private document between the parties which, if done correctly, will resolve everything in your separation and divorce process, and many things permanently so.  A good Separation Agreement will outline the sales procedure, including how the Realtor will be chosen, how price changes will be made, the parties’ obligations to maintain the home in “list condition” (this is a big one), and how the positive equity or debt will be allocated.  Virginia is what is called an “equitable distribution” state, and the governing statute allows the Court to allocate assets and debt to the parties.  In this vein, a good Agreement can save the parties headaches and legal fees down the road.

A second option for parties to a Separation Agreement is to consider a spousal buyout, which is a procedure whereby one party refinances the current mortgage(s), pays the other party an agreed upon price, and in exchange the other party executes a deed conveying his or interest in the home to the first party.  Like the sale, a spousal buyout should be carefully orchestrated in the Agreement, and should answer the following questions:  1) how long does the “purchasing” party have to conduct the spousal buyout?  2) how will the buyout price be decided?  3) when is the “purchased” party receiving their funds, and will it be lump sum or over time?  4) when is the deed executed?  A good Agreement will address all of these questions, and more.  For example, who will receive the refund of the escrow account upon refinance?  When will the payment of the home-related expenses specifically change over?  All of these should be addressed up front.

The second option is for the court to decide how the asset or debt is to be allocated.  This can be very expensive, and sadly, in some cases people spend all of their equity fighting over the sales proceeds in court.  Much like other issues, balanced judgment and good counsel from the attorney in this respect can help individuals avoid a very expensive mess.  Furthermore, judges will not micro-manage the sales process to the same extent that attorney can in the contractual context, so the costs of enforcing an order of the court in this vein can be even greater.  However, litigation is sometimes unavoidable, and if you have to look to the courts to resolve these issues, you want to be prepared.  In advance of court, take a peek at the equitable distribution statute in Virginia by googling Virginia Code 20-107.3.  Although the statute is complicated (there is a continuing legal education seminar on this statute alone which has been taught by the Chief Judge in Fairfax to practicing attorneys) this can get at least get you started on understanding this process.

Most importantly, an excellent Realtor who is adept at handling different personalities and can serve as a go-between during this difficult process is invaluable, and as important as the attorney.  Rob Chevez is just such a Realtor, and I would not hesitate to recommend him in this context.


Christian M. Lapham

2300 Wilson Blvd., 7th Floor

Arlington, VA 22201

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