Is a Deed-in-lieu safer or better than allowing a foreclosure?

Is a deed-in-lieu better than a foreclosure?

In a word, no. So what’s the difference?

In terms of your credit, there is no difference between a deed-in-lieu and a foreclosure. A deed-in-lieu merely saves the lender from spending the time and money to go through the foreclosure process.

The only difference to you is that you’ll probably know a definite date when you need to be out of the house – and you’ll probably need to be out sooner. With a foreclosure, your move-out date could be delayed for up to a year.

Meanwhile, under today’s guidelines, a foreclosure or deed in lieu will probably require 7+ years of good credit before buying a next home.

In addition, under California law, if you have a second mortgage that was not a “purchase money mortgage” the lender can come back on you for a deficiency after either a foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu. The only way to avoid that risk is through the short sale of your home.

The strange thing is, even though it’s more convenient, cheaper, and less time-consuming for the bank, you might not even be allowed to sign a deed in lieu. In order to be considered, you’ll have to fill out an application. And if you have two loans, you’ll probably be denied unless the same investor (not the same servicing company) owns both notes.

So… Is a deed-in-lieu better than a foreclosure?

Our answer is: “Don’t even consider it.” There simply is no benefit to the homeowner.

What about the January 2013 announcement from Fannie Mae?

In 2013 Fannie Mae announced that they’ll allow on-time borrowers to wipe out their mortgage debt through a new “mortgage release” program. This program is simply the re-naming of the deed-in-lieu process. And while it may be of benefit to homeowners in other states, it’s not a benefit to California homeowners. Here’s why.

Every situation is different. If you’d like specific answers that relate to your situation, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com. We’ll be happy to analyze situation and provide the answers you need before making a decision that will affect your future.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.

Divorce – what to do with the house?

One of the questions that must be answered in divorce is “What do we do with the house?”

If you’ve needed your combined income to maintain the payments on your San Diego home, neither of you can handle it alone, so you’re forced to make a decision.

One choice is to keep the house and rent it out to cover the payments. Another is for one of you to remain in the house and rent a portion of it to assist with payments. However, renting does come with its own problems. One is compromising the tax status. The other is dealing with tenant issues such as collecting rents and performing “fix-up” duties after a tenant moves out. Your neighborhood zoning may also be a factor.

The other choices are selling or letting the house go into foreclosure.

Selling your San Diego home is always the best option.

If you have equity in the home, this is obviously the easiest and best solution. But even if your San Diego home is “underwater,” selling as a short sale is not only possible but will be more beneficial to both of you.

*Should you short sale or shouldn’t you? Call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to get advice from San Diego’s top short sale specialist, Tom Dunlap.

When You Let Your San Diego Home Go Into Foreclosure…

At first glance, this might sound like a good option. One of you can remain in the home without making payments until a foreclosure is final. With many lenders taking a year or even longer to complete a foreclosure, that would give you breathing space and time to put away some funds before needing to find a rental. At the very least, you’ll have about 6 months from the time you make the last payment.

But this option does have drawbacks. First, it will severely damage your credit scores and thus your ability to rent or buy a home in the future – and even your ability to get a job. And unless only one of you signed the mortgage documents, this damage will apply to both of you.

It doesn’t matter if the divorce decree gave the house to one spouse. What matters is whose signature is on the mortgage loan application(s).

Next, if you have a home equity line of credit, the second lien holder can sue you and obtain a deficiency judgment. And, just as everyone’s credit scores will suffer, this judgment will obligate anyone whose name is on the application.

Finally, if you allow your house to go into foreclosure, you’ll both be ineligible for a new mortgage loan for from 5 to 7 years.

Good reasons to choose a San Diego short sale instead

Your credit scores will take a smaller hit and notice of the short sale will “fall off” your credit report in seven years rather than ten.

The time before you can get a new loan will also be shorter. After the short sale of a home, if you meet the other qualifications, you can get a new mortgage in as little as 2 years.

Short sale consequences are far less severe than the consequences of a foreclosure…

So if you own a home in Carlsbad, Coronado, La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, North County, Del Mar, Mission Hills, Kensington, or Metro San Diego and are facing divorce and loss of income, think seriously about a short sale.

Call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to ask your questions and tell us the situation. We’ll give you straight answers.

First, we’ll be happy to help you determine whether you do have equity in today’s market. Then, if you need to short sale your house, we’ll explain the real estate short sale procedure and answer all your questions.

We specialize in San Diego short sales and over the past 9 years have maintained a 98% success rate in getting short sales closed. So get in touch. We’d like to help you avoid foreclosure, too.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.

Are the Banks Negligent, Indifferent, or Inefficient?

Whatever they are, their actions all too often spell financial loss for San Diego homeowners.

Here are 3 ways that loan servicers and asset managers are keeping some San Diego homeowners in distress.

1. Asset managers routinely delay their response to short sale requests.

Most San Diego home buyers want a “yes or no” answer within a few days of making an offer to purchase, but when they attempt to purchase a home in short sale status, they’re forced to wait. In fact, agents report waiting 6 months or even more just to get a yes or no.

The result: Many homeowners go into foreclosure while a ready, willing and able buyer stands ready to purchase.

The second result: Buyers withdraw their offers when their patience runs out. They made the offer because they wanted a home – so they move on and choose one that’s readily available. We can hardly blame them for that.

Those who are willing to wait for an extended period of time expect a bargain in return for their patience, and we can’t fault them for that, either.

This delay in responding to short sale requests causes many San Diego buyers’ agents to avoid showing short sales. It’s much easier to get an answer after a home becomes a bank-owned foreclosure.

Why do loan servicers delay response? Is it inefficiency, negligence, or indifference?

If banks wanted to protect their investors and help the real estate market rebound, they would make the short sale approval process as fast as possible. And they could. They could, but so far all they do is talk about it.

They could begin the property valuation process just as soon as they get the short sale request. They could also inject some common sense. After handling dozens of foreclosures and short sales in a given area, they should know market values. If homeowners knew the bank’s “bottom line” they wouldn’t waste time considering offers that were sure to be rejected.

* Should you short sale or shouldn’t you? Call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to get advice from Tom Dunlap – San Diego’s top short sale specialist.

2. Banks routinely reject loan modifications that would prevent foreclosures and preserve neighborhood values.

While a few homeowners have been granted loan modifications, more have been refused. You’ll find no shortage of stories about homeowners who spent months submitting paperwork before being denied. Others have been granted trial modifications and faithfully made payments, then been denied.

And the guidelines are both unclear and conflicting. One representative tells the homeowner they must be in arrears to be considered – another tells them they must not be in arrears.

Many who “do not qualify” are wondering why. One woman I spoke with said “We’ve been managing not to get behind with our payments at $1,700 per month. But the bank says they’re denying our modification because we can’t afford $1,100 per month. Does this make sense?”

The result: Homes in foreclosure that could have been saved and neighborhood values dropping because of the presence of vacant homes.

Is it deliberate negligence, indifference, or inefficiency?

4. Banks that repossess San Diego homes simply don’t get them on the market in a timely fashion, and don’t maintain those homes while they stand vacant. And as we all know, vacant homes or poorly maintained homes bring down neighborhood values even as they erode the value of the house in question.

Is this because they simply have too many homes to deal with? Is it an intentional delay because they don’t want to flood the market with repossessed homes? Or is it because they have failed to develop efficient ways to streamline their processes?

Whatever the reason, entire neighborhoods have been damaged by the banks’ failure to act in a timely manner.

The good news for San Diego homeowners and short sale buyers is that we have developed systems and relationships with loan servicers that get our short sale requests pushed to the “front of the line.”

We can generally get an answer within 60 days or less, and because we know how to present our short sale requests and negotiate with the banks, that answer is usually “yes.” In fact, we have a track record of 98% success in closing our short sales.

No two short sale situations are exactly alike. When you want advice that applies to your specific situation, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to request a no-obligation consultation.

And if you already know you want to short sell your home in Carlsbad, Coronado, La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo, North County, Del Mar, Mission Hills, Kensington, Metro San Diego, or downtown San Diego, or if you’d like to purchase a short sale, get in touch.

We’ll be glad to explain the short sale process, tell you what you can expect as a buyer or as a seller, and show you why we get good results while so many who attempt short sales fail.

We look forward to talking with you… so get in touch and we’ll set a time to get together.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.

What About Strategic Default?

Considering Strategic Default of your San Diego Real Estate?

Strategic default is often a sound financial decision. And in almost every case, selling as a San Diego short sale is a better decision than simply letting the property go into foreclosure.

Thousands of San Diego property owners have come to the realization that continuing to make payments on their homes, second homes, and residential rental properties might not be a wise business decision. And, there are times when sound business decisions should outrank other considerations.

Strategic default is generally thought of as the decision by a homeowner or investor to let a property go into foreclosure, whether or not they have the ability to continue making payments. But contrary to what many believe, such homeowners can also choose the short sale method of strategic default – and with far better consequences.

Some San Diego property owners have both assets and income – they are able to continue making the payments. But for many, the property has lost so much value that continuing to service the debt does not make good financial sense.

In the long run, making the effort to short sell is worthwhile. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • A foreclosure is far more damaging to your credit scores – and for a longer time
  • A foreclosure will prevent you from securing some kinds of employment
  • After a foreclosure, you’ll be ineligible for a new home mortgage loan for 5 to 7 years
  • After a short sale, you’ll be able to get a new mortgage loan after only 3 years

Some San Diego homeowners are now making monthly mortgage payments that are roughly double what their next door neighbors are paying for a similar home purchased recently. Worse, their homes are often worth less than the balance they owe on their mortgages.

No two situations are exactly alike. When you want advice that applies to your specific situation, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to request a no-obligation consultation.

Some rental property owners should also consider a strategic short sale.

Faced with competition from investors who purchased in the last few months, many are being forced to lower their rents. Properties that were once San Diego income earners are now a monthly drain on bank accounts. Owners are writing checks to make up the difference between rental income and the mortgage payments, taxes, insurances, HOA fees, and special assessments.

For some it means using every last dollar and forgetting about such things as saving for retirement or college tuition for the kids. For those whose income stream has been severely reduced, it could mean going a little farther into debt each month on credit card accounts, just to keep food on the table. And, making those payments could bring a serious and negative result in their future and their loved ones’ futures.

It might not make sense to risk all of that for a property that will not cash flow for many years.

Thus, some rental property owners as well as San Diego homeowners are considering “Strategic Default” as a wise business decision made to protect themselves and/or their families from future financial devastation.

In spite of what you may have read, banks do allow short sales on investment properties and second homes as well as primary residences, and they do allow short sales for owners who have both income and assets.

And, while inexperienced real estate agents will tell you it can’t be done, we have negotiated short sales involving debts of $100,000 and up to $4 million.

If you’re considering a Strategic Default Short Sale in San Diego County, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to get advice from the short sale expert who says “Yes, we can” – and does it.

Every San Diego short sale, and especially every high dollar short sale, is unique and requires a unique strategy and approach. One size definitely does not fit all. And that’s probably why you’ve heard so many stories of failure.

Perhaps the biggest mistake anyone can make when attempting to short sale their property is choosing an inexperienced agent. And even choosing an agent with success in short selling low to moderately priced San Diego homes can result in failure with a luxury home, a second home, or an investment property.

We are San Diego short sale specialists. Unlike many REALTORS®, we don’t subcontract out our short sale negotiations, but handle all negotiations in-house. Through our experience in handling hundreds of short sales, we have developed effective processes for dealing with high dollar San Diego short sales. As a result, we have a 98% success rate.

Preparation, Presentation, and Skilled Negotiation Lead to Strategic Short Sale Success

When the request is presented properly and negotiated skillfully, bank negotiators usually conclude that allowing a San Diego short sale is the best business decision for them, as well as for the property owner. And of course it is. Foreclosure is not without cost to the bank, and a vacant home requires maintenance and upkeep. Then, it sells for a lower price than an occupied home.

During the past 9 years of handling short sales, we’ve learned that each bank has a different way of handling short sales. Some are aggressive on certain issues and not on others. Our knowledge of these differences is one reason why we succeed in closing San Diego short sales while others fail.

By knowing their policies and procedures, and by knowing who to contact at each bank, we can present the picture in a manner that leads to “yes.”

If you think a strategic short sale might be the best solution for you, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to tell us your situation and send us your questions. We’ll be happy to explain the short sale process, answer your questions, and let you know what information will be required from you in order to submit a winning request package to your bank – or banks.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.

When should I consider a San Diego short sale?

As a San Diego homeowner, When should I consider a short sale?

If the current market value of your home is less than the balance due on your mortgage you should consider a short sale as soon as you know you will be unable to continue making payments without borrowing from other sources.

If things are tight and you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, its time to look at your options.

Don’t wait until a foreclosure is threatened, and don’t use up all your resources and/or borrow from other sources in order to maintain payments on a home that you cannot keep.

An important point to note is that a homeowner seeking to do a short sale must demonstrate that they are unable to continue making payments on the mortgage and that the circumstances that prevent payment were unforeseeable and occurred after the property was purchased.

Although some real estate agents will tell you it can’t be done, homeowners with both income and assets are often allowed to dispose of property through a short sale. Visit our strategic default page for further information.

There are no hard and fast rules, because every short sale situation is different. If you’d like specific answers that relate to your situation, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com to ask your questions. We’ll be happy to answer them and to explain the short sale process.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.

What Are The Alternatives to Foreclosure?

What can I do if I want to avoid foreclosure?

Walking away and letting a home go into foreclosure will destroy your credit rating for many years – and even longer if you get stuck in a zombie foreclosure. Let’s take a look at the other options for San Diego homeowners:

  1. Sign a deed-in lieu of foreclosure.
  2. Work with the lenders for a loan modification
  3. If you have an FHA loan and are unemployed, apply for forbearance
  4. Offer your home as a short sale

A Deed-in-lieu – This is a document that essentially hands your San Diego house back to the bank without going through the foreclosure process. Your bank may or may not allow you to do it, but even if they do, it’s not a good move. The effect on your credit rating will be the same as a foreclosure. Worse, if you have a non-purchase money second mortgage, the bank can come back on you for a deficiency.

Loan Modifications:
Although highly touted as the answer to the mortgage crisis, in reality few have been helped and many have been harmed.

In theory, the lender would alter your interest rate and lower your payments for a set time, allowing you some “breathing room” in which to get your financial life back in order.

In practice, thousands of homeowners have been “strung along” for months, only to be rejected – even after complying with all the terms during a trial period.

That doesn’t mean you might not be successful, and we on the San Diego Pro Team will be happy to explain the process to you and help you determine whether the bank would consider your application for modification. We have the same software the banks use, and we’ll give you the results instantly.

Forbearance: This is a wonderful tool for anyone who has an FHA loan and is unemployed. The bank simply suspends your obligation to make payments for a year. The unpaid interest is tacked on to the end of the loan.

During the forbearance period you are free to market the house for sale – without the threat of an impending foreclosure. This is true whether you have equity or need to short sale your house.

A Short Sale: Although the current market value of the house is less than the balance due on the mortgage or mortgages, the bank approves the sale and accepts the proceeds as payment in full.

Here in California the first mortgage and any secondary liens are wiped out by a short sale. After foreclosure, your secondary lien holders can obtain a judgment against you for their unpaid balance.

The short sale of a home does require extensive negotiation with the bank’s asset manager, who might be more inclined to force the homeowner into foreclosure. That’s why homeowners need an experienced agent at their side. We of the Tom Dunlap Team have the experience – and an enviable record of success in getting our short sale listings sold and closed.

Note that in a San Diego short sale, all costs of selling, agent fees, unpaid taxes, etc. are paid by the lender from the proceeds of the sale. When you short sale a San Diego home, you pay no costs beyond the expense of keeping the house ready to show to potential buyers.

What are the Odds of Success on a San Diego Short Sale?

When you have the right assistance, the odds are very good.

The successful short sale of a home begins with knowing each lender’s preferences and how to present the short sale package so that it gets timely and favorable attention. Then, it depends upon negotiating skill and persistence.

Tom Dunlap  is San Diego’s leading short sales specialist. He has negotiated thousands of real estate transactions and has a 98% success rate when negotiating with lenders on a short sale.

It’s no wonder – he not only has more than 25 years of experience in helping San Diego homeowners, he’s also an attorney and holds a Master’s Degree in Negotiation.

If you have questions about loan modifications, forbearance applications, or short sales – or if you’d just like to discuss the San Diego real estate market – please get in touch.

Call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.

Is it possible to just walk away?

Yes, it is possible to walk away. Under California’s new laws, when you go through foreclosure, the banks cannot sue you for a deficiency on your first mortgage. However, if you have a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit, they can. And they probably will.

(One of the benefits of a short sale vs a foreclosure is that when you choose to short sale your San Diego house, none of your mortgage lien holders can sue for deficiency.)

However, even if you don’t have a second mortgage, walking away and allowing your house to go into foreclosure is one of the worst possible choices you could make. It should not be done without careful consideration.

The pitfalls of a San Diego foreclosure…

Foreclosure will severely impact your credit rating for many years to come. This will not just impair your ability to purchase another home, it will affect your ability to rent, to get a job or a promotion, and even to order cellular telephone service or cable television.

In addition, if you’re in a “sensitive” job, it could cause termination.

As for your ability to purchase another home – mortgage loan applications used to ask if you had a foreclosure in the past several years. Now they ask if you have EVER had a foreclosure. If the answer is yes, you’ll have to supply even more information and may well be turned down for that loan.

A further danger is that you could be trapped in a Zombie foreclosure. Should this happen, bills on your foreclosed house will keep mounting, and you could remain liable for several years. Learn more about Zombie foreclosures.

If you do choose to walk away, do NOT pay anyone to help you. Just call the lender and let them know.

If you’d like to discuss your other options, such as a San Diego short sale, a strategic default, or even a loan modification, do call call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com. We’ll be happy to talk with you.

What about the new “Walk away” program from Fannie Mae?

The new program is essentially a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. The only thing new is that Fannie now says they’ll approve the process for homeowners who are not delinquent on payments.

The impact on your credit is still the same as a foreclosure, and it’s still a poor idea for California homeowners. Here’s why.

If you have specific questions you’d like answered, call 619-929-1413 or write td@tomdunlap.com. We’ll be glad to share the benefit of our experience in closing hundreds of San Diego short sales.


Please note that the information provided on this San Diego short sale page is generic, academic information used for general information purposes and may not be construed as or relied upon as a promise for a specific outcome.

This site provides information about real estate, law, income taxes and credit scores as relates to borrowers in distress, short sales and similar situations. The site is designed to help users safely cope with their own needs. Information is not the same as advice — the application of law or regulations to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer, tax adviser or other specialist if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. The models in photographs accompanying the testimonials on this website are used for illustrative purposes and are not a personal endorsement.