These days many homeowners are realizing that loan modifications are extremely difficult to obtain, so they try to do a short sale of their home. A short sale is when you sell you home for less than what you owe the bank. The bank has to approve the sale which requires the homeowner to show a financial hardship. People assume that their real estate agent will protect them in the transaction. That is far from the truth. There are different legal issues that arise in the transaction for a short sale.
1) Future personal liability- most bank approval forms say they are agreeing to accept less than what they are owed to approve the sale, but many do not include any representation that they will not sue the homeowner down the road to get the difference between what they received and what they were owed. This means a year or two down the road, the homeowner could be served with a lawsuit when the bank thinks the homeowner may be back on their feet to collect.
2) Fraud- most bank are requiring the homeowner and the buyer to sign contracts stating that they are not engaging in some kind of side transaction. Many homeowners are approached by investors stating that they will rent the home back, sell the home back to the homeowner later, or pay the homeowner to do the short sale. If the homeowner signs this and they do something they stated they were not doing, the homeowner, investor, and real estate agents could face charges of fraud against the bank. The bank would argue that they would not have agreed to the sale if they knew there was a side deal.
Bottom line- check with a local real estate or bankruptcy attorney because a bankruptcy filing may be a better choice to walk away and eliminate personal liability or possible fraud claims.
Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney Chris Barsness, Esq.