Is a Short Sale the Right Option for You? Pros and Cons

December 07, 2023

When faced with financial hardship and the possibility of losing your home due to an inability to meet mortgage payments, it’s essential to explore all available options to find a solution that suits your unique circumstances. One such option that homeowners may consider is a short sale. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the pros and cons of short sales, helping you make an informed decision regarding whether it’s the right choice for your situation.

Understanding Short Sales

A short sale occurs when a homeowner sells their property for an amount less than the outstanding balance on their mortgage, with the lender’s approval. This process is typically initiated when the homeowner is unable to continue making mortgage payments, and the property’s value has depreciated, making it worth less than the remaining mortgage balance. Short sales are often viewed as an alternative to foreclosure, allowing homeowners to avoid the damaging consequences of foreclosure on their credit and financial future.

Pros of Short Sales

  1. Avoiding Foreclosure: Short sales allow homeowners to avoid the damaging consequences of foreclosure, which can include eviction, public auction of their property, and severe damage to their credit score. Foreclosure can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, making it challenging to secure future loans, rent new homes, or even find employment in some cases.
  2. Debt Forgiveness: In a short sale, the lender may agree to forgive the difference between the sale price of the home and the outstanding mortgage balance. This debt forgiveness can amount to a significant financial relief. Being relieved of this debt burden provides homeowners with a fresh start, allowing them to rebuild their financial lives without the weight of the previous mortgage debt.
  3. Controlled Process: Short sales offer homeowners more control over the sale of their property compared to foreclosure. Homeowners have the opportunity to work closely with real estate agents, negotiate with potential buyers, and actively participate in the process, ensuring a more favorable outcome.
  4. Preservation of Dignity: Short sales can help homeowners maintain their dignity and privacy during a challenging financial time. Unlike foreclosure, which involves public auctions and eviction, short sales are generally conducted in a more discreet and private manner.
  5. Potential for Relocation Assistance: Some lenders may offer financial incentives or relocation assistance to homeowners who choose to complete a short sale. This assistance can help cover moving expenses, rental deposits, or even assist with finding new housing, making the transition to a new living situation more manageable.
  6. Reduced Emotional Stress: Short sales can reduce the emotional stress and uncertainty associated with foreclosure. By actively participating in the sale of their home and working toward a solution, homeowners may experience less emotional turmoil than if they were facing foreclosure.
  7. Opportunity for a Fresh Start: Completing a short sale can be the first step towards financial recovery and a fresh start for homeowners. Once the short sale is complete, homeowners can focus on rebuilding their credit, managing their finances more responsibly, and planning for a more secure future.
  8. Potential for Less Damage to Credit: While a short sale can have a negative impact on credit scores, it is generally less damaging than foreclosure. The extent of the credit damage may depend on factors such as the homeowner’s credit history and the lender’s policies, but it is usually a more manageable setback.

Cons of Short Sales

  1. Credit Damage: A significant drawback of a short sale is the potential for damage to your credit score. While a short sale is generally less damaging than foreclosure, it can still lead to a noticeable decrease in your credit score. This could make it challenging to secure future loans, obtain favorable interest rates, or even rent a new home.
  2. Lengthy Process: Short sales can be a protracted and complicated process, involving negotiations with multiple parties, including the lender, buyer, and real estate agents. It can take several months to complete a short sale, during which time the homeowner may still be responsible for property-related expenses, such as maintenance, utilities, and property taxes.
  3. Uncertain Outcome: There is no guarantee that a short sale will be approved by the lender. Some lenders may reject the short sale request, leaving homeowners with limited options. This uncertainty can be stressful and may result in wasted time and effort.
  4. Potential Tax Implications: Depending on your specific situation and changes in tax laws, you may be required to pay taxes on the forgiven debt amount in a short sale. This forgiven debt is considered income for tax purposes, which could result in additional financial burdens, especially if you are not prepared for the tax implications.
  5. Impact on Future Homeownership: A short sale may affect your ability to qualify for a new mortgage in the short term. Many lenders have waiting periods before they will consider extending a new mortgage to individuals who have completed a short sale. This could limit your access to affordable housing options in the near future.
  6. Limited Control Over Sale Price: In a short sale, the lender has a significant say in the sale price and terms. They may reject offers that they deem too low, potentially causing delays in the process or even leading to the cancellation of the short sale.
  7. Emotional Stress and Uncertainty: The uncertainty surrounding the outcome of a short sale, coupled with the emotional stress of dealing with financial hardship, can take a toll on homeowners. The process may involve extensive paperwork, negotiations, and waiting periods, contributing to the overall stress.
  8. Potential Deficiency Judgment: In some cases, even after a short sale, homeowners may still owe the lender the deficiency amount—the difference between the sale price and the outstanding mortgage balance. Lenders can pursue deficiency judgments, which can lead to further financial burdens and legal issues.


A short sale can be a viable solution for homeowners facing financial hardship, offering benefits such as debt forgiveness and the avoidance of foreclosure. However, it comes with potential drawbacks like credit damage and uncertainty. When considering a short sale, it’s essential to consult with experts like DealHouse who can provide tailored guidance to help you make the right decision for your specific circumstances. Your home and financial future deserve careful consideration and professional support to ensure the best possible outcome.

Chris Chiarenza