Have you ever really thought about the phrase, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”? I actually researched it and learned that as horses age, their teeth begin to project further forward each year. Because of this, their age can be estimated by checking how prominent the teeth are. So, what the proverb means is that you should not criticize or cast doubt when something good is offered to you (don’t focus on the horse’s teeth).
That being said, is the short sale incentive something good or could it be a beast of burden?
There are all kinds of incentives available to short sale sellers throughout the United States. Those incentives range from a few thousand dollars all the way up to $35,000 (enough to pay for some of your kid’s college education).
Here’s a summary of the most common incentives available:
Bank of America Cooperative Program: In this program, qualified households that participate in this short sale program will receive $2500 at closing. Some folks may even get up to $30,000!
HAFA: In this program, qualified households who participate in this program (which has both short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure options) receive $3000 at closing. (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also participate in HAFA.)
TAP: In this program, qualified California households that participate in a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure will receive up to $5000 at closing.
Wachovia: Wachovia Bank frequently sends borrowers letters asking them to participate in a short sale and offering an incentive in the letter. Sellers should read their mail and save the letter so that they can redeem the incentive at closing (usually between three and five thousand dollars).
Litton: Litton Loan Servicing frequently sends borrowers letters asking them to participate in a short sale and offering an incentive in the letter. Sellers should read their mail and save the letter so that they can redeem the incentive at closing (usually between three and five thousand dollars).
Citi and Chase Bank: Both of these mortgage lenders are now sending certain borrowers letters offering them the option of participating in a short sale for a significant incentive (often between 20,000 and 35,000 dollars). Read the fine print on the offer and follow all of the rules in order to receive this incentive at closing.
Now that the incentives are so big, short sale sellers who are getting these big checks are both excited and curious. Not only does the headache of the short sale go away when the deal finally closes, but the pleasure of the big check is exciting. Nevertheless, many short sale sellers are wondering whether the incentive is taxable. That is, does the short sale seller have to pay taxes on the amount of the incentive check just as if this check were income?
While it is difficult to predict whether the bank will actually send a 1099 for the amount of the incentive, it would probably be a good idea for a short sale seller to consult with an accountant before agreeing to the short sale incentive and participating in the short sale. In this case, it may be a good idea to examine the teeth before agreeing to take that gift horse.