What’s a Short Sale?

I’m live blogging today from the UCCAI Manager’s Munch; the topic of the day is — you guessed it — the economy. More specifically, “The Effects of Short Sales and Foreclosures on Homeowners’ Associations”.

The speaker is Paul Newton, Backman Title Services.

Paul’s beginning with an explanation of “race notice” — the concept that the first to record their property interest will have priority.

Utah’s Condominium Act provides priority to mortgage holders over association liens in condominiums; in the HOA setting, there was no law prior to 2004. Nonetheless, most declarations (in HOAs and condominiums) provide similar protections to lenders.

Backman’s office was opening 150 foreclosure files a month in 2007; now it’s a thousand per month.

Paul appropriately points out that the language of a declaration is critical respecting the association’s rights; some declarations give priority to first mortgages; others give priority to all mortgages. Needless to say, at least for a while, that’s a significant issue.

Another good point arises with respect to the “due date” of assessments in non-condominium associations. Most declarations have assessments on an annual basis. If assessments become due on the first of the year, but are billed monthly thereafter, the association may have priority relating back to January 1. Careful lenders avoid this predicament by receiving a payoff, and assuring that assessments are current at the time of transfer.

Paul says that their company appreciates the filing of a new lien, even post-foreclosure, so that the title companies know whom to contact. John Morris questions whether the filing of a lien against lenders may create a “selective enforcment” issue. That’s a good point; a solution to that may be an amendment to the association’s debt collection policy; a policy distinction which is reasonable should eliminate that argument.

John Richards inquired about how to pursue lenders who don’t take care of their property; Paul recommends contacting the lender at the address on the deed, and the trustee who conducted the sale. (There are a lot of very busy foreclosure lawyers who will really enjoy that additional mail.)

A short sale, as defined by Paul, involves a proposal for a sale where not all lienholders will be made whole; the first lienholder will dictate who gets what, and the title company must close within those parameters. Obviously, the frequency of these short sales is increasing.

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