During the mortgage meltdown that caused the Great Recession a decade ago, some homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure or constructed a short sale to get out from under the debt. In most of the cases, the lenders forgave all or part of the debt owed them.
Similarly, in the early 90’s after the failure of the Savings & Loans in the U.S., thousands of homeowners lost their homes in the same way but back then, the policy of the IRS was to consider the forgiven debt as income. Today, it is still considered income which means that a homeowner could lose their home because they could not afford to pay for it and to make matters worse, they would owe income tax on the debt relieved.
The good news is that in 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Act and it has continued to be extended with its current expiration of 12/31/20.
The amount forgiven for income tax purposes may not be the same amount owed to the lender. Mortgage forgiveness has a limited exclusion for discharged home mortgage debt for a principal residence only; it does not include second homes or investment properties. Only the amount of mortgage debt that can be treated as acquisition indebtedness in included.
In the example below, a homeowner purchased a home and refinanced the home five years later at 80% of the market value. The new loan proceeds were used to payoff the original mortgage and make $30,000 of new capital improvements. The revised acquisition debt is the acquisition debt at the time of refinance plus the capital improvements made with the loan proceeds.
The new $400,000 loan produced $39,417 of home equity debt which is not considered acquisition debt. Home equity debt is money borrowed on a home and can be used for any purpose, but it may not be tax deductible or considered acquisition debt. Acquisition debt is money borrowed to buy, build or improve a principal residence subject to a $750,000 limit.
Assume that the borrower never made a payment on the new loan. If the new loan went through foreclosure while the Mortgage Forgiveness Relief Act is in effect, the forgiveness would be limited to the acquisition debt of $360,583 and the remaining amount of $39,417 would be considered income and subject to tax.
This article is meant to inform homeowners of liabilities associated with foreclosures and possible remedies that may be available. This example is meant to illustrate the portion of a loan that could be forgiven. Taxpayers should always consult their tax professional regarding their specific situation and the way the law would apply to their situation. For more information, see IRS Publication 4681.
|Purchase Price … 5 years ago|
|Mortgage at time of purchase … Acquisition Debt|
|Fair Market Value … Today, 5 years later|
|Refinanced 80% – Loan to Value|
|Replaced unpaid balance – current acquisition debt|
|Capital improvements made with loan proceeds|
|Revised acquisition debt|
|Home equity debt … difference in refinanced amount and acquisition debt|
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Brian White from Paramount Real Estate Services Earns Real Estate, Short Sale Designation to Help Homeowners in Danger of Foreclosure
Salem, Oregon – February 18, 2012 – Brian White of Paramount Real Estate Services in Salem has earned the prestigious Certified Distressed Property Expert® (CDPE) designation, having completed extensive training in foreclosure avoidance, with a particular emphasis on short sales. At a time when millions of homeowners are struggling with the possibility of foreclosure, the skills and education amassed by White will help benefit Salem & Keizer-area residents and communities.
Short sales allow the distressed homeowner to repay the mortgage at the price that the home sells for, even if it is lower than what is owed on the property. With plummeting property values, this can save many people from foreclosure and even bankruptcy. More and more lenders are willing to consider short sales because they are much less costly than foreclosures.
Today, more than 13 percent of homeowners are delinquent on their mortgage or in the foreclosure process. This is occurring across all price ranges, and the fastest-growing category of homes in foreclosure is the luxury home market.
“The CDPE designation has been invaluable as I work with homeowners and lenders on complicated short sales,” said Brian. “It is so rewarding to be able to help families save their homes from foreclosure and help them sell their home on their own terms with dignity.”
Alex Charfen, co-founder and CEO of the Distressed Property Institute in Austin, Texas, said that agents such as Brian White with the CDPE Designation have valuable perspective on the market, and training in short sales that can offer homeowners real alternatives to foreclosure, which can be devastating to credit ratings.
“These experts better understand market conditions than the average agent, and can help sellers through the complications of foreclosure avoidance,” he said.
The Distressed Property Institute provides live and online courses to train real estate professionals how to help homeowners in distress, with a strong focus on handling short sales.
“Our goal is to help as many homeowners as possible, by educating as many real estate professionals as possible,” Charfen said. “Brian White has demonstrated a commitment to struggling homeowners, a commitment that can provide much-needed stabilization to the community.”
Brian says, “in order for our communities, our towns, our states and our country to become healthy and vibrant again; we need to tackle this demanding issue head on. We need to first find successful ways to help homeowners stay in their homes and then clear out the inventory of the homes where homeowners were not successful. This is a critical time for the American people.”
To visit the Distressed Property information page CLICK HERE.
For more information about CDPE Designation, visit www.cdpe.com.
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Paramount Real Estate Services
Jobs continued to gain in the month of April according to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics. 290,000 non farm jobs were created with 66,000 of them for the government as temporary jobs for the census continue to gain momentum. Have you had your friendly census worker visit you yet?
Over the last 2.5 years this Great Recession has contributed to approximately 8 Million jobs lost. Last months jobs report is encouraging, but I am not expecting numbers like that to follow month after month. And even if it did it would take about 3 years to get all of those jobs back that we lost. I hate to be a pessimist here. I want this our economy to thrive again and thrive now! I hope I am wrong, but I just don’t see how we can continue to spend the money that we don’t have and sustain any kind of momentum that we are seeing. The bailout of Greece is a prime example of that. The U. S. holds 17% responsibility in the International Monetary Fund and they just decided to bail out Greece for a whopping 1 Trillion Dollars! Greece is a perfect example of entitlement programs coming to a head. The working class can not afford to pay for all of these programs! More taxes means higher costs for good and services or less jobs. Period.
A lot of this “growth” that we are seeing is believed to be due to the seasonal time of year and the notion that many people are out spending more money instead of paying for their mortgage every month. Many of these are people who have jobs and have the money to pay for their bills, but they are strategically missing payments in order to have a little more fun this year. People are frustrated that their equity is gone so they are not seeing the value in making their mortgage payments. This is known as Strategic Defaulting. They miss a couple of months, which can mount out to a chunk of change, every month or so until the bank comes knocking. The borrower then makes a payment to appease their lender and the cycle continues over and over again. This obviously brings up a moral dilemma. What would you do? Studies show that once the value of a person’s home decreases to 75% of their balance owed, that person considers a strategic default. The more popular this idea becomes the more people will consider it. This won’t help out the recovery of our economy, but it is the sign of the times.