In our prior two posts, (What documentation should I receive from my lender prior to a foreclosure mediation? and What documentation do I need to produce for a foreclosure mediation?) we addressed the documents that lenders and borrowers have to produce as a part of Oregon’s new mediation program. However, there is an old adage that “numbers never lie.” After collecting all of the required documents, it will sometimes become abundantly clear that the numbers simply do not add up and a loan modification is not likely. There can be a number of reasons—from significantly reduced property values to loss of income due to job loss—but sometimes the best strategy (if not the only strategy) is to consider an exit strategy.
We have all heard about people who just “walked away” from their mortgage. Just to be very clear, walking away from your mortgage is NOT an exit strategy. The fact that you have walked away from your home does not mean you have walked away from the legal liability for your home. Quite the contrary. What you might have done by walking away is walk right into a very large money judgment. To draw an analogy, walking away from your home is just like refusing to pay that annoying parking ticket. Just because you ripped it up and threw it in the trash (don’t ever do that by the way), does not mean that the fine is not still out there waiting...waiting...waiting....
So what is a viable exit strategy? Two of the most commonly used exit strategies are short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure. In this blog, we will explain what a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” is, how it works, and whether or not this is a strategy you should consider.
Simply put, a deed in lieu of foreclosure is a transaction where a homeowner voluntarily transfers title (the deed) to the property to the lender in exchange for a release from the mortgage obligation. Before accepting a deed in lieu of foreclosure, lenders usually require that homeowners try to sell the home first. If the home sells for the mortgage amount (or more), then problem solved. If not, then a deed in lieu of foreclosure might provide a quick, relatively straightforward resolution that avoids the time and expense associated with a foreclose action.
If your lender agrees accepts a deed in lieu of foreclosure, there are legal documents that the parties will have to execute. These documents generally include: (1) a deed that will transfer legal ownership of the property to the lender and (2) an affidavit that memorializes the terms of the parties agreement. This agreement should explicitly include language that the deed in lieu of foreclosure fully satisfies the debt and the lender has no right to seek a deficiency judgment against the homeowner. The “deficiency” in this case is the difference between the current fair market value of the home and the total debt.
Once this process is completed, the homeowner can then walk away from the home with no further legal liability to the lender. (There may be tax ramifications however, so you should also seek the advise of a tax advisor before finalizing any documents). One case where this might be the best option is if your home value is hopelessly upside down. But that is just one such scenario. If you have questions about whether or not a deed in lieu of foreclosure is the right option for you, please call Garland Griffiths Knaupp at (503) 846-0707.
We’re here to help.