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Article Written by: Mick Bernard a Certified Credit Restoration Expert and President of Credit Strategies, a credit consulting firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Credit Strategies works with Mortgage Companies, Realtors and Bankers to help their borrowers with less than perfect credit increase their credit scores so they can qualify for the best possible financing.
 
Short Sale vs. Foreclosure
This debate is racing across our nation. It is one of the questions I am asked the most, “Should I let my house go into foreclosure or should I do a short sale?” Everyone seems to understand a foreclosure will not only demolish their credit score , but it will also ruin their chance of getting a decent interest rate on any new financing they want to get in the next few years. A foreclosure is considered a major incident by the credit bureaus. Any major incident can have a devastating impact on your credit score. Other examples of major derogatory credit incidents are bankruptcies, charge offs, judgments and short sales, which are normally accompanied by the term “account settled.” Anytime your credit report has the term, “Settled or Settled for Less than Full Amount,” it is considered a major derogatory incident and can have a major negative impact to your scores. How much it will reduce your score is determined by many reasons some of which we can discuss and some that are kept a secret by Fair Isaac, the inventors of the FICO credit scoring system. We do know the higher your credit score, the more damaging a major derogatory incident will be. In other words, a major incident affects the people that have the furthest to fall.
Foreclosure
Most people know what this is. A foreclosure is when the bank takes back a home because the homeowner doesn’t make the payments on their home loan or mortgage. In most cases a home doesn’t go into foreclosure until a homeowner is several months behind on the mortgage. A foreclosure can have a double negative impact on a consumer’s credit score. In addition to a foreclosure listing being a major derogatory incident, there are also normally a significant number of late payments reported by the lender to the credit bureaus.  These late payments vary in severity from “30–days” late to the much more damaging “90-days” late incident.   In many cases there are additional late payments more severe than 90 days being reported, such as the 120 and 150-day late payments.   The number of the late payments and the severity of those payments will all contribute to the damage done to your credit scores.
 
Short Sale
Short sales are more of a mystery to consumers because there is some confusion regarding the impact they have on their credit scores. Fair Isaac has confirmed that they consider a short sale to be a major derogatory item because of it being listed as a “settled account.” Major derogatory incidents can have a severe negative impact on your credit scores. Most of the cases I’ve been involved with, the main difference between a foreclosure and a short sale is communication. During the foreclosure process the homeowner tends to be more invisible during the process. During a short -sale transaction there is constant communication between the bank and the homeowner. During that time the homeowner or the homeowner’s representative has the opportunity to negotiate with the lender. In addition to negotiating a reduced loan pay-off they could also be negotiating what the lender will report to the three credit bureaus when the transaction is closed.   If the lender reports, “Settled or Settled for Less than Full Loan Amount,” the short sale will be considered a major derogatory incident. If the lender doesn’t report the short sale as “Settled or Settled for Less than Full Loan Amount,” then this will not be considered a major derogatory incident and will not have the negative impact.  The homeowner may also choose to remain current on their home loan during the short sale process. If they remain current then they will not have the added negative impact of the late payments affecting their score.
 
Affects on Credit Score
 
The effect a foreclosure or a short sale has on your credit score is impossible to predict because of the variety of other variables impacting the scores. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not being able to make your mortgage payment, do your research. Call your lender to see what options they have available before making any decisions. Call a professional; there are many different professionals that specialize in these types of transactions. The decision you make could have the largest impact on your credit score than any decision you have ever made.
 
Need more information? Mick can be reached by e-mail: mick@onlinecreditstrategies.com
 
 
Credit Strategies - 480-502-5554 - www.onlinecreditstrategies