Foreclosures and Short Sales

Over the last several years, mortgage lenders aggressively promoted subprime loans as a way for buyers with less than perfect credit to purchase homes or refinance existing mortgages. Monthly payments were held at an artificially low level that did not even satisfy the interest on the loan (this is known as negative amortization).

The unfortunate result of this credit practice is that many consumers now owe more on their home than when they purchased it (this is sometimes called an upside-down loan).

When the housing market was good, with constantly rising home prices, this was not a significant problem. Unfortunately, housing prices have slumped and the availability of loans to refinance a mortgage has all but disappeared. Many homeowners now find they cannot meet their monthly mortgage payments and are also unable to sell their property.

These homeowners are faced with two difficult choices: walking away from their property and facing foreclosure or trying to find a buyer and arranging for a short sale. In addition, modification of the loan is a possibility but currently only a small percentage of homeowners are successful in qualifying for a loan modification.

In the typical short sale, the lender is paid less than the outstanding amount of the mortgage and may or may not agree to forgive the unpaid difference. A short sale may seem like a "winner" to the overburdened and stressed out homeowner, but could lead to very serious and unexpected consequences.

In both foreclosure and short sale of a home, there may be significant issues regarding liability for the unpaid loan balance, as well as adverse tax consequences. Loan modification may also result in significant and unexpected tax consequences if the homeowner does not qualify for a possible exception. These consequences should be addressed in advance, with sound advice from an experienced attorney.

CLICK HERE  for an outline of the tax and liability consequences under Federal and California Law.

CLICK HERE for a Discussion of the Adjustments to Tax Attributes Required where Cancellation of Debt Income is Excluded under Internal Revenue Code section 108.

CLICK HERE for Answers to Frequently asked Questions regarding tax relief under the Mortgage Protection Debt Relief Act of 2007.

CLICK HERE  for some examples illustrating application of these rules.

Tax attorney Elliott Abrams has many years of experience advising clients on financial liability and tax matters. With his guidance, clients can make informed decisions about ways to minimize or possibly eliminate these risks.

It is critical that you know your options and the possible consequences of losing a property to foreclosure or selling it through a short sale or successfully modifying the mortgage loan.

Now is the time to contact the Law Offices of Elliott Abrams for a consultation. The cost for a comprehensive analysis of the tax and liability consequences of foreclosure, a short sale or a loan modification is $450 for one property plus $200 for each additional property.