Should You Keep Making Payments on an Underwater Home?

Are you among the hundreds of homeowners who purchased your home at or near the top of the market – and now, even though prices are rising, owe far more than the home could bring in a sale?

Were you led to believe your home would go up in value, and that it would be easy to refinance out of your adjustable rate mortgage before the interest rate reset? Even if you have a fixed rate mortgage, you’re probably frustrated because your house is “underwater” so you can’t refinance into today’s low rates.

Why are you continuing to pay?

If you’re in this situation, you may be asking yourself why you’re continuing to make payments when it could be years before your home is again worth it’s purchase price – or even its mortgage loan balance.

You’d probably like to keep the home – but pay less.

You’d probably love to get a loan modification with a principal reduction and a fair interest rate – so you can make payments on your home based on its value in today’s market. Unfortunately, banks aren’t interested in making principal balance reductions.

We know, there’s some talk of principal reductions in the new news coming out of Washington. At this point, it’s just talk, and it only applies to a handful of borrowers.

Meanwhile, banks resist principal reductions because they have to be written off on the books immediately. That hurts the company’s reported earnings – and reduces the CEO’s ability to get a bonus at the end of the year. It could even threaten his job.

An interest rate reduction (which is temporary) shows a much smaller loss – and thus makes a much smaller impact on the CEO’s bonus.

In addition, experience has shown us that most loan modification attempts fail – sometimes after causing financial devastation for the homeowner. For many, foreclosure is the final result of a loan modification attempt.

Offering your home as a short sale is a better plan.

First, when you short sell, neither your first nor your second lien holder can come after you for a deficiency judgment. If you let the house go into foreclosure, that second lien holder can demand payment.

Second, a short sale has a smaller impact on your future. Your credit scores aren’t as severely damaged, and you’ll be eligible for a new mortgage loan in as little as 2 to 3 years. After a foreclosure, you’ll wait 5 to 8 years.

Now that second lien holders can’t demand deficiency payments, it takes a strong negotiator to get them to agree to a short sale. There’s no doubt that short sales demand a greater commitment and greater expertise from your REALTOR®, which is why you hear so many stories about the difficulties of closing short sales – and why you need expert assistance.

As a sale specialist, I have developed methods for approaching the banks so that my clients can sell short, even with second mortgages, and even when they have both assets and income. In fact, I have a 98% success record in closing the short sales I list.

Every short sale situation is different. If you’d like specific answers that relate to your situation, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com.

I’ll be glad to explain in detail how the short sale process works, and to answer all of your questions. So contact me today.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.