A Short Sale Surprise

30 Apr

Metro® Boston, Publication Date: April 13, 2011

By Attorney George Warshaw

In a short sale, a mortgage lender agrees to accept less than it is owed when a house or condo is sold.

The short sale lender issues a letter to the seller (i.e., its borrower) in which the lender promises to release its mortgage upon receipt of a certain amount of money by a specific date. The letter is in turn given to the closing attorney who relies upon the letter in conducting the closing and issuing title insurance.

I recently discovered a lender that issues not one, but two short sale letters: one for the attorney, and one that specifically directs that it “DOES NOT” go to the attorney. The second letter requires additional “side” money before the lender will release its mortgage.

What happens if the sale goes through but the lender never receives the secret side money? The unsuspecting buyer won’t have clear title to the property if the lender refuses to release its mortgage.

The unsuspecting buyer hopefully bought title insurance, but it could still take several years before the mortgage is finally cleared from the title.

Apparently, our Attorney-General was notified of this national lender’s disgraceful practice and has done nothing about it. Maybe that’s the surprise! © 2011 George Warshaw.

The foregoing is not intended as legal advice. Consult an attorney to see how or if the foregoing applies to you.

Attorney George Warshaw represents buyers and sellers of homes, condos and investment properties, prepares wills and trusts for inheriting real estate, and trusts that protect your children and pets. George welcomes new clients and questions at  george.warshaw@warshawlaw.com.

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