The most frequently asked question about selling your home through a short sale is “What will this do to my credit?”  Like most questions in today’s real estate market, there is no single answer.  But the good news is that you may be able to buy another home much sooner than you think.

There are many factors that determine the all-mighty credit scores, but generally a short sale will cause your score to drop by 100 – 200 points.  This is true if your short sale is reported as “settled for less than agreed”, and no deficiency judgment is filed.  This is a critical point, and it is important that you and your Realtor carefully read the language used in any short sale approval.   In California, SB 931 goes into effect on January 1, 2011 which protects borrowers from lender recourse on a 1st  mortgage, but may still leave them vulnerable on 2nd mortgages.  If you are unclear about whether or not your lender can file a judgment or if they ask you to sign a promissory note, consult with an attorney before signing anything!  A deficiency judgment or other recourse will increase the long-term negative impact of the short sale on your credit.

Another important factor is the length of time of default before the sale and whether or not a Notice of Default (NOD) was ever filed.  For many lenders, the filing of a Notice of Default is nearly as derogatory as an actual foreclosure.  A foreclosure stays on your report for 7 years and with either a foreclosure or NOD, you will most likely not be able to buy another home for a full 3 -5 years.  However, with a short sale that did not include an NOD, you may be able to qualify in as little as 2 years, according to some lenders.  This is another reason why it is important to act quickly once you realize you can no longer make your mortgage payments.

The most important factor is improving your score after a short sale is how you manage the rest of your credit.  I have several clients who just 18 months after a short sale have brought their credit back up over 700!  A few of their tips include:

  • Don’t take on additional debt
  • Stay ruthlessly current on every payment
  • Gradually pay down balances to a level that is 1/3 of your total credit line, but don’t close accounts.  Better to pay them off, and use them occasionally.

As short sales become more and more common on credit reports their impact on your non-mortgage credit will likely lessen, and even if you once again choose to buy a home, you may be eligible in as little as 2 years.

Advertisements