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Short Sale

  • Short sales are voluntary and require approval from the lender.


  • Foreclosures are involuntary, where the lender takes legal action to take control of and sell the property.

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Short Sale vs Foreclosure

Short Sale

Before the short sale process can begin, the lender who holds the mortgage must sign off on the decision to execute a short sale. Additionally, the lender—typically a bank—needs documentation that explains why a short sale makes sense. That's because there is a chance that the lending institution could lose a lot of money in the process.

If approved for a short sale, the buyer negotiates with the homeowner first before seeking approval on the purchase from the bank. It is important to note that no short sale may occur without lender approval. Once the short sale is approved and goes through, the lender receives the proceeds of the sale. However, the homeowner is still required to pay the deficiency—that is, whatever is left remaining on the loan.


Unlike a short sale, foreclosures are initiated only by lenders. Mortgagors who fall behind on their payments—anywhere from three to six months—may be subject to foreclosure by their lenders unless they bring their loans up to date. Foreclosure proceedings vary by state including what types of notifications the lender must provide, as well as what options the homeowner has to bring the loan up to date. Laws also stipulate how long a bank has to sell the property. The lender initially takes legal action to take control of the property to force the sale of the home. By doing so, the lender moves against delinquent borrowers, hoping to make good on its initial investment of the mortgage. Also, unlike most short sales, many foreclosures take place when the homeowner has abandoned the home. If the occupants have not yet left the home, they are evicted by the lender in the foreclosure process.

Once the lender has access to the home, it orders its own appraisal and proceeds with the sale of the home. Foreclosures do not normally take as long to complete as a short sale, because the lender is concerned with liquidating the asset quickly. Foreclosed homes may also be auctioned off at trustee sales, where buyers bid on homes in a public process.

Short sales don't damage a person's credit rating, while foreclosures can stay on a person's credit report for seven years.

Short sales allow people to repurchase another home, while foreclosures affect a borrower's credit score

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