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California REALTORS® Applaud New Law on Short Sales

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By Leslie Berkman

RISMEDIA, July 26, 2011—(MCT)—Under a new state law, any lender who agrees to a short sale—which by definition will yield insufficient funds to cover the outstanding loans on a property—must accept it as payment in full for all loan balances. That is a good thing for upside-down homeowners who need to sell, says the California Association of REALTORS®.

In a prepared statement applauding Gov. Jerry Brown for signing SB 458 into law, the association observed that previously a first mortgage holder could accept an agreed-upon short sale payment as full payment for the first mortgage but a junior lien holder could still hound the seller for the full amount owned on the junior lien.

“The signing of this bill is a victory for California homeowners who have been forced to short sell their home only to find that the lender will pursue them after the short sale closes, and demand an additional payment to subsidize the difference,” says association President Beth L. Peerce.

“SB 458 brings closure and certainty to the short sale process and ensures that once a lender has agreed to accept a short sale payment on a property, all lien holders—those in first position and in junior positions—will consider the outstanding balance as paid in full and the homeowner will not be held responsible for any additional payments on the property,” she adds.

Those shopping for a home in the $500,000 to $1 million price range should not tarry. That is because they will probably face higher interest rates and more strict underwriting standards and will need to make a larger down payment later this year when conforming loan limits increase, cautions California Association of REALTORS® President Beth L. Peerce.

“Would-be buyers on the fence need to act well before Sept. 30, when the conforming loan limit is set to be lowered, to avoid a higher cost of homeownership,” Peerce said in a prepared statement.

Lowering the limits on mortgages eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could have a broader impact than on individual homebuyers, says Peerce. “As the housing market tries to gain a more solid footing, the decrease in conforming loan limits that is scheduled for later this year could adversely affect the market,” she says.

Copyright (c) 2011, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

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