New anti-deficiency law for short sellers hits the state 1/1/11

A ray of good news for homeowners in California. Lame-Duck Arnie actually signed a bill that provides some relief for short-sellers.

Existing law prohibits a deficiency judgment by the holder of a first trust deed on a property that has sold through foreclosure. SB931 extends that protection to short-sellers of a property as well. If the holder of a first trust deed or mortgage gives written consent to a short sale, that lender is obligated to accept the sale proceeds and discharge the remaining amount owed (the deficiency). Prior to this law, lenders could pursue a homeowner even after approving a short sale for the balance of the deficiency. It still allows the holder to pursue the seller in the event they determine there was fraud or waste by the borrower and it does not apply to holders of second or subsequent notes.

The California Association of Realtors was optimistic that the Gov. would also sign our sponsored bill SB1178 that would have extended anti-deficiency protection to owners who had refi-ed their homes only to the extent that the subsequent loan was used to pay debt or costs incurred in the purchase of the home. In other words, if you refi-ed only to get a better interest rate but took no  money out, your original anti-deficiency protections would still accrue.

We all know that during the boom years, banks were quick to offer refi-s but slow to disclose that you were giving up a valuable protection by taking them up on the offer. You sacrificed your anti-deficiency protection when you refi-ed. Arnie sided with the banking lobby and declared that SB1178 would interfere with the contract between the bank and the borrower. No matter that there was no disclosure or explanation of the ramifications. CAR will be looking to again sponsor this bill in the upcoming legislative session in hopes that a new Governor will have a better grasp of the issues.

Governor Schwarzenegger holds the distinction of vetoing more real estate friendly and CA sponsored bills than any previous governor of our state. But he talked such a good line when he came to talk with us – we thought he really meant all his accolades about real estate making him the man he is today. Oh well, he turned out to be much less of a man than we all hoped. Some people light up a room when they enter, others when they leave. Don’t let the door hit ya in the bum on the way out.

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