Should I Hire an Real Estate Attorney to Conduct a Short Sale on My Home?

Updated on October 12, 2012
T.D. asks from Roseville, CA
10 answers

Hi. I may have to short sale my home and was wondering if I should go through a real estate attorney or just hire a real estate agent. I have a first and second loan on my home. I talked to a law firm that will represent my case for a less than $2000.00 (with my employee discount). They insist they will do all the negotiating between the two loans and hopefully I won't have to pay out of pocket.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

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So What Happened?

Jo W. Here's a response for must missed my explanation since you've read my profile. I live in an area that is not so safe for me or my child. I only let my son play outside in my back yard and not in the front yard. All except one house on my street are renters because the owners all moved out. And they don't care about the people they rent to as long as they get their rent. The house across the street has all kinds of activity going on because they sell marijuana and who knows what else. I'm really over the police helicopter flying over my house looking for a suspect or what ever else. Today as I backed my car out a kid throws a rock at my car for no reason at all. I'm so over this. My husband and I works very enough to qualify for a loan and finally get out of this area and give my son a better education and safer place to live. I bought my first house at 24 years old and was able to pay and keep it for four years because I was young and didn't know any better so I got an ARM. Well my mortgage went from 1300/mo to 2600 and continued to increased. Because I was trying to do the right thing, I worked my behind off and spent most of my days off doing OT to try to save my house. Did the bank care about helping me? No! I begged and did the loan re-modification for them to tell me they lost my paperwork for the 3rd time because they are trying to stall. Bottom line is after trying to save my house for a year from being foreclosed I lost my first house, my American dream. I know we all got stories out there and I'm not justifying my actions (not sure what's it's gonna be yet) but I just want to give you all a little background about myself. I am 33 years old now and my son is my priority. Providing the best life for him and keeping him safe is what I'll do. You would do the same. Right?

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

Anyone can short sale their home for whatever reason they choose. And it will not hit your credit unless you decide not to pay the balance due. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who does this is trying to get out of their liability to the bank. A short sale simply means you are selling for less than your current mortgage balance. The bank will still provide you with an opportunity to pay the balance.

Ok, having said all that, yes, hire the attorney. And if you can find a way to get money from your 401k or other places (even a credit card might work) to pay down your principal and avoid the 'short' on the front end, even better. An attorney will give you the proper advice. Good luck & I understand your dilemna 120%.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

You would consult with a real estate atty who specializes in foreclosures and short sales, but you wont likely need their services. You would work with a realtor who is very experienced in short sales.

I am thinking of moving to Orangevale. Can I pm you about areas to avoid?
Best of luck to you

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You have an ARM now??? Refinance. Rates are at all time low.

Next time make sure you know the neighborhood where you are investing.

Don't expect a government bailout due to your screwup and not paying your bills.

Educate yourself... Your children will thank you later!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You can't short sale a house and be credit worthy enough to buy another one. The only way out if you want to purchase now would be to cover your loss with cash in a traditional sale and have less to put down on the new place. You can't expect one bank to eat your loss while another extends hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit to you.

I know one couple who did a short sale into a new home. The old house was in just the wife's name because she bought it before she got married. Her husband's credit was good enough that he was able to secure a loan on their new house in just his name. Unless you're in a situation like that, what you're planning to do won't (and shouldn't) fly.

When we sold our old house, I had to borrow from my 401(k) and use our tax return and my annual bonus to cover the $50K loss we took on the house. Yes it was painful but it was the only way to get out of our bad investment.

Other than that, I don't have any advice on attorney vs. Realtor. We have always used both in buying and selling homes as they serve different functions. The attorney won't market your home and get you a buyer. Their job would be to negotiate with your lenders once you get a viable offer. This is an important step because crappy attorneys can drop the ball and lose the sale. My sister was selling her house in FL and they had a lender ready to pay cash for $10K under what she owed and the attorneys involved never got the deal to the bank so it died. The house has now been abandoned for a year and is in foreclosure. Just make sure that whoever you deal with knows what she or he is doing and has a track record of successfully doing whatever it is you want to have done. Check references.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I don't understand any of this... I just wanted to say I hope it all works out. You should come to Ohio - it's a lot safer, can get more bang for your buck on a house and live out in the country where you don't have to worry about your son playing outside.

Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

What, Wait? Short sale yet you are planning on building a new home. How exactly do you think that is going to work when you are asking a bank to write off your debt? I know California has some really strange home ownership laws but they still report to your credit.

Tell me you are not going to try to short sale and buy before it hits your credit? I would like to think banks are smarter than that but who knows....

Sorry but this kind of tweaks my melons! You pulled equity for god knows what so you got the cash but you want them to write it off, then you are buying a new home which means you have a down payment? Pay your bills!!!

Yeah, I get your question was whether or not to get an attorney but I vote for plan C, use the money you were going to use for a down payment on another house to correct your liquidity issues. I would again like to think banks are smart enough to look at assets and say hell no but who knows.
Tiffany, after reading your what happened, I understand the frustration with banks. My ex trashed my credit during our divorce. Since I was always current on the mortgage no one wanted to help me. They didn't care that my life and budget was paying my mortgage, nothing left for me. So I get that part.

Still I would never think to screw the banks which is what it sounds like you are doing. They didn't make the area you live in go to heck anymore than my bank made my ex not pay any of our credit cards for a year. They are massive and uncaring but in the end two wrongs do not make a right.

Get out and move on but pay what you can. Really I don't understand why you aren't pissed at the government rather than the banks. They were the ones that created those stupid modification guidelines not the bank. Oh and also be glad you didn't get your modification, it actually trashes your credit by hitting it for at least three months with the intensity of a foreclosure. I got as far as that disclosure and said screw it! it took me too long to get my credit up again I wasn't going to hurt it again.
Debra, thanks for that information, I will keep it in mind for the future but apparently, well according to the what happened, I was correct on the reasons this time. :(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

According to your post on October 2, in your SWH you state that you and your husband offered and went into contract on another home. So now, you are trying to figure out what to do about this house? I'm confused. Did you or did you not already buy another home?



answers from Los Angeles on

I contacted a real estate agent. He will do the short sale for the commission the bank will pay him as part of the short sale laws now on the books.

You can do either a lawyer or a real estate agent. I chose a real estate agent because that is their business and it didn't cost me anything.

(I tried to get a loan modification, but the bank wouldn't talk to me.)

Good luck to you and yours.


answers from Washington DC on

you may need a real estate attorney, as just listing your house as a short sale won't do much if the bank hasn't ratified the short sale. i doubt a realtor could do that, although i don't claim to be 100% sure about that.
my son is in the process of buying a short-sale house, and it's been a nightmare trying to get the bank to sign off on the contract. if they aren't willing to take the loss, it doesn't matter how well or at what price you list the house.
it sounds as if the firm you're talking to is giving you a pretty good deal, just double check the details for devils.



answers from Sacramento on

All you need is a good real estate agent who knows and has dealt with many short sales. My agent may be able to help you, I'm just not sure how far down in sac she lists. But even if she can't, she'll know someone who can. You won't have to pay anything as long as you get it sold before December ( the tax exemption for short sales expires at the end of the year). Also in response to the comment that banks didn't create this mess, they most certainly did. They were irresponsible in their loaning practices for many years, now they are reaping the consequences.

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