Equifax

Finance Blog

Deed in Lieu: The Foreclosure Alternative You Need to Know

Written by Alanna McCargo on July 8, 2013 in Real Estate  |   No comments

We’ve all heard hundreds of times that the real estate market is getting better, but things are still tough for many homeowners. According to a recent CoreLogic report, there were 55,000 foreclosures completed in March; that’s two times more homes lost to foreclosure than before…

foreclosure, mortgageWe’ve all heard hundreds of times that the real estate market is getting better, but things are still tough for many homeowners. According to a recent CoreLogic report, there were 55,000 foreclosures completed in March; that’s two times more homes lost to foreclosure than before the crisis.

If you’re a homeowner who is struggling to make mortgage payments, you probably don’t feel optimistic about today’s real estate market. Instead, you may feel overwhelmed and confused about your options.

You may have heard about short sales—where lenders and homeowners agree to sell a home for less than is owed on the loan in order to avoid foreclosure—but there’s another good option that’s not getting much traction: deed in lieu of foreclosure.

What is a deed in lieu of foreclosure?

A deed in lieu of foreclosure (often shortened to “deed in lieu”) is a legal transaction that reassigns your deed and releases the mortgage lien. When you exercise this option, you voluntarily transfer the ownership of the property to the owner of your mortgage in exchange for a release from your mortgage loan and payments.

In some states, a deed in lieu doesn’t mean you’re completely free of the mortgage debt, as some banks have the right to require a promissory note that would make you responsible for the deficiency balance (the difference between the loan amount owed and the market price of the home). Check with your lender to determine how the deficiency balance will be handled.

When should I consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure transaction?

The deed in lieu option is often a simpler process than foreclosure or short sale, and it allows for a transaction between lender and homeowner without the involvement of realtors and buyers. It often involves incentives to the homeowner, and it is relatively free of drama for families who are no longer able to stay in their homes.

You may want to consider a deed in lieu if:

  • You are going through a hardship (a job loss or a medical emergency, for example).
  • You can’t afford your current mortgage payments.
  • You have been unable to successfully modify your mortgage to make the payments more affordable.

It’s important to note that in some cases, the lender will only accept a deed in lieu if you’ve previously tried and failed to sell your home at fair-market value.

Last year, Fannie Mae introduced a new product called Mortgage Release, intended to help borrowers who can no longer afford their homes by packaging a deed in lieu with options to rent the home back for a period of time.

Options are available—sometimes with a relocation incentive—to help you leave the home immediately; stay in the home for up to three months without paying rent; or lease the home, at market rates, for up to one year.

Depending on the situation, you may be required to make a financial contribution to receive a mortgage release. This particular foreclosure alternative is available if Fannie Mae is the investor on your mortgage loan. To find out if Fannie Mae owns your loan, check out KnowYourOptions.com.

The program is very consumer-friendly, and it sounds like a slam-dunk for distressed borrowers, but it has seen little traction in the market.

Why haven’t I heard of the deed in lieu option before?

Deed in lieu hasn’t seen broad adoption because there is little understanding of how it works and there have been no incentives to the industry to participate. Many borrowers are unaware of this option because lenders are not proactively offering deed in lieu as an alternative to foreclosure, and major investors that own loans are not making the option available. It also doesn’t offer the same monetary incentives to commission-based third parties that a short sale does, which means it doesn’t get much promotion.

When the deed in lieu option is offered, it’s often as a measure of last resort right before a foreclosure sale—way too late in the process to stop a foreclosure.

Significant time, money, and energy are spent in both the short sale and foreclosure processes. Add to that the emotional toll these processes take on homeowners, and the costs add up even more. If borrowers knew more about deed in lieu as a viable option to exit their home in the earlier stages of their delinquency, significant time and expense could be saved for all parties involved.

Distressed homeowners need to understand all possible options and how those options work. At the end of the day, if a family must leave its home and can no longer pay the mortgage, the option to exit quietly and turn over the keys to the bank without a great deal of hassle, court fees, and embarrassment is absolutely worth exploring.

Alanna McCargo is a housing and financial services executive and personal finance writer and advocate. She is a public speaker on hot topics in financial services and the housing market, and she writes a personal finance blog called “Matter of Money.” She is an active volunteer and serves on the board of directors for the Women in Housing & Finance Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing financial literacy, housing policy issues, and education programs for women, children, and under-served communities. Follow Alanna on Twitter @myhomematters.

No comments yet


Leave a Comment


Name :


Commenting guidelines

We welcome your interest and participation on this forum, but be aware that comments will be published at Equifax's sole discretion. Please don't use this blog to submit questions or concerns about your Equifax credit report or raise customer service issues. Instead, you should contact Equifax directly for all such matters and any attempts to do so in this forum will be promptly re-directed.

Some other factors to consider when commenting:
  1. Registration and privacy. While no registration is required to visit our forum, participants wishing to post a message must register by creating an account. All personal information provided by forum members incident to registration is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
  2. All comments are anonymous. We'll delete your name, e-mail address, and any other identifying information, including details about your investments.
  3. We can't post or respond to every comment - As much as we'd like to, we can't post every comment, nor can we guarantee that we will respond to each individual message. All questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or similar customer service issues should be handled by contacting Equifax directly.
  4. Don't offer specific legal, tax or financial advice. All of the materials on this Site are for information, education, and noncommercial purposes only and this forum is not intended as a means of expressing views or ideas regarding any specific legal, tax, or investment advice. While offering general rules of thumb is both permitted and encouraged, recommending specific ideas or strategies regarding investments, taxes, and related matters is prohibited.
  5. Credit Repair. This blog is not intended as a venue for the discussion or exchange of ideas regarding credit repair or other strategies intended to assist visitors and community members improve or otherwise modify their credit histories, ratings or scores.
  6. Stay on topic. Your comment should be concise and pertain to the specific post in question.
  7. Be respectful of the community. The use of profanity, offensive language, spam, and personal attacks will not be tolerated and egregious or repeat offenders will be banned from future participation. We encourage disagreement and healthy debate, but please refrain from personal attacks on our WordPresss and contributors.
  8. Finally: Participation in this forum may be terminated by Equifax immediately and without notice for failure to comply with any guidelines or Terms of Use. As such, you should familiarize yourself with all pertinent requirements prior to submitting any response through the blog or otherwise. All opinions expressed in this forum are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.


Real Estate Archive

Stay Informed Sign up for our FREE Equifax email Newsletter