Elaine Abercrombie

During this holiday season I am so thankful, as I am every day, for how fortunate I am.

Yesterday morning I received a call from a very confused and dazed client. Todd (not his real name) explained that his wife had just left him and that now he had received a Notice of Default on his home. As his two boys played outside in the yard, we discussed his options.

With the Notice of Default’s sale date already past, we had to act fast. Todd contacted an attorney for advice and found he could file bankruptcy and stay in the house about a year, but this action would damage his credit for at least 10 years.

Another option was to do nothing and let the bank foreclose, affecting his credit for seven to 10 years.

The bad news was that it was the holiday season and the bank could foreclose now according to the Notice of Default letter.

Another option was to list the property and request that the bank cooperate with a short sale. Why would the bank be willing to do this? Two reasons: It costs the institution more money to foreclose and having the home occupied during this time period is better for everyone involved. The bank doesn’t have to worry about vandalism and the owner has a place to stay until the process is finished.

Some short sales close quickly while others may take more than a year. The timeframe usually depends on the bank and the amount of staff it has dedicated to the short sale process.

If something like this happens to someone you know and love, call a knowledgeable REALTOR who will be happy to explain the options.

This market is creating many renters who were once homeowners. The hope is to become a homeowner again as soon as possible for most.

Elaine Abercrombie, a broker with Abercrombie Fine Homes, is past president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. She can be contacted at elaine@afhomes.net or at 805.450.0086.