As of this week, a recent study by the real estate data provider, CoreLogic, has revealed that about 11 million US homes are occupied by owners who owe 15% or more than the current appraisal value of their home. This amounts to an alarming 23% of American home owners. This tells us that an even larger number of Americans are “underwater” on their mortgage in some capacity.
Amidst the recent real estate bubble, millions of Americans have found themselves facing the question of whether to fall into foreclosure or attempt to sell their property through a short sale. The next question is usually “which is better for my credit?” First, It is important to know the difference between the two processes. Although there may not be one with any ultimate advantage over the other, this will help you decide which process which is right for you.
A short sale is only possible when your lender agrees ahead of time to accept less than the amount owed on the loan. Not all lenders will agree to negotiate a short sale, especially if you are not currently very behind on your loan or have other cash assets. If you know your loan will become delinquent in the future, (i.e. unemployment payments running out, job ending)having a short sale in anticipation could be helpful - but depending on your individual situation, a short sale could be just as damaging to your credit as a foreclosure.
A foreclosure will occur when you are indeed behind on mortgage payments. The amount of allowed payments missed before the final foreclosure will vary according to your state. These late payments can very negatively affect your credit and regulations state that you’ll likely need to wait 24-72 months to apply for a new home loan. (One advantage for short sellers is only needing to wait about two years to re-apply for a mortgage loan.)
There is some debate about whether short sales will harm your credit any less than a foreclosure, but the fact is, neither will help you to obtain good credit. Bad credit can get in the way of renting a new apartment, buying a newer downsized home, or even getting a new car or new job. In order to secure your future after a short sale or foreclosure, it will be imperative to assess your individual situation with complete financial and credit counseling