Given the housing market, we’re not surprised if you’ve just found out you’ve got an underwater mortgage. Right now, 24% of all homeowners are in the same boat as you, with one in ten of them owing 25% more than their homes are worth!
So what are your options when you’re faced with an underwater mortgage? Let’s take a look:
Staying in the house and paying off the mortgage. This could be a sound business decision under a limited set of circumstances: if the value of your house is only, say, 5% to 10% less than what you owe on your mortgage, or if you’re close to having your mortgage paid off. And, of course, if you still have a job or business that lets you make the payments.
But don’t count on property values going up a substantial amount any time soon.
Right now, banks have a record number of foreclosed properties—1.1 million—and that number isn’t going to go down any time soon. It may well continue rising, and that means even more downward pressure on property values!
Loan modification. Don’t get your hopes up about this one—less than 3% of homeowners qualify for a modification on their underwater mortgages. And two of the available modifications will lead you to pay even more on that mortgage!
Deed in lieu. In this case, you hand the keys to the bank. You move out immediately. Then the bank sells your house for pennies on the dollar and comes after you for the rest of the mortgage. This isn’t an option—it’s another trap!
Short sale. This is an option where you and your mortgage lender agree that the lender will accept being paid by a sale on your home that doesn’t actually fully pay off the mortgage—called a “short” payoff. At worst, negotiating for a short sale gives you time to live in your house rent-free. At best, you can walk away from your underwater mortgage without having to take such a big hit on your credit rating!
Foreclosure. Don’t be shocked—a foreclosure is a legitimate option for dealing with your underwater mortgage! Think about it—do big businesses or banks themselves keep paying on an underwater mortgage when property values drop or when they’ve run into financial trouble? They do not. Go ahead and look it up.
And then be angry about how the financial services industry has sold everyone a bill of goods about how we should be playing by different rules than they play by when it comes to underwater mortgages!
Granted, Kristin and I aren’t saying that anyone should let their morals sink to the level of your average CEO. But on the other hand, what higher moral principle is there than looking out for and protecting your own family?
Now, there are side effects to foreclosure. Your credit will take a hit, and in some states, your lender may try to milk you for the difference between what it sells your house for and the total value of the mortgage. The big banks are just starting to get aggressive about this in the past few months.
But you can easily ride out a few years of bad credit, and we can show you ways to protect yourself from a deficiency judgment!
The bottom line here is that if you’re dealing with an underwater mortgage, you have options—a lot of them. Kristin and I have been through this, and we know what we’re talking about. Use our website and our other materials, and we’ll show you how to get out from under your underwater mortgage—and come out ahead.
About the author: Bud and Kristin Gragg have over thirty years of Real Estate sales, investing, and development experience combined; they have just survived liquidating over 24 million in underwater investment Real Estate.