Dog Days of Summer Likely to See Deluge of Short Sales

Housing and finance experts are predicting the dog days of summer are likely to produce a deluge of short sales.

“We’re seeing a rush already,” Daren Blomquist of RealtyTrac told Reuters. “There was a big increase in the first quarter and we’re expecting that to continue.”

The crush of short sales comes as more and more banks opt for a portion of what they’re owed rather than have a property go into foreclosure. The Obama administration has advocated short sales as a solution for both financial institutions and sellers.

RealtyTrac data shows short sales in the first quarter of 2012 were up 25 percent compared to the year prior. The total — 109,521 — represented a three-year high. In fact, 2012 may serve as the high-water mark for short sales.

Tax Break Ending

Homeowners considering whether to pursue a short sale are also staring down the calendar. Normally sellers in a short sale see their forgiven loan amount counted as taxable income. A temporary governmental provision suspended that to help unclog the foreclosure pipeline, but the tax break comes to an end this year. Short sales can often take months, which means prospective sellers need to move soon in order to retain the tax break.

They also need to begin the process with their bank. Most sellers will take a credit hit of anywhere from 85 to 160 points and be precluded from obtaining home financing for several years. Veterans and other VA-eligible borrowers will have to wait two years before being eligible for a VA-backed mortgage.

Short Sale Market

Short sales continue to be a great deal for buyers with the credit and income to secure home financing. Prices on distressed properties are often 2o to 25 percent less than non-distressed properties, but there’s increased competition on short sales, which tend to be in better shape than foreclosures.

Buyers expecting to land a deal may need to rein in their optimism and come prepared with a serious offer.