Dollar SignI will be losing money on the sale of my Hamilton County home. I can make installment payments on the money I owe, right?

 Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. If you agree to sell your home for less than what you owe on it, you must pay the difference in one lump sum at closing. In some cases, that can be a whole lot of money. So what are your options if, like most of us, you don't have the funds to write a check for potentially thousands of dollars or more?

Stay Put - If you know you will be losing money on the sale of your home, and you don't HAVE to move, then don't. Instead, consider investing in a relatively inexpensive home improvement project that you can enjoy now and which is likely to recoup the majority of your money when you do sell. Home improvement projects with a high return on investment include replacing the front door, a minor kitchen remodel, the addition of a deck, and installing new windows.

Seek a Loan Modification - If you are considering selling because you can't afford your current payments, find out if you are eligible for a loan modification. Your lender may agree to change the terms of the original loan to make the payments more affordable by adding missed payments to the existing loan balance, modifying the interest rate or extending the loan term. Keep in mind that loan modifications can be temporary or permanent. More information on government loan modification programs.

Petition for a Short Sale - Sometimes staying put isn't an option. If that's the case, talk to your bank about a possible short sale of your home. A short sale occurs when your lender agrees to accept a payoff on your loan that is less than what is owed. Keep in mind that while a short sale might allow you to sell your home without owing money at closing, there are risks involved. For instance a short sale can negatively affect your credit rating as well as your ability to buy another home in the future.

Do Your Homework- Before you make any decisions, understand what your options really are. Ask your REALTOR® to prepare a comparative market analysis, which will help you figure out what price you can realistically expect to get for your home if you do decide to sell. The CMA will be based on what homes comparable to yours have recently sold for. A REALTOR® also can provide you with a statment of what you are likely to net - or owe - at sale based on the estimated selling price of your home and the costs associated with selling. If you decide that a short sale is your best option, you'll want to enlist the help of an experienced REALTOR®. Saying that short sale transactions can be complicated is an understatement, so look for an agent who has the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation. And ask how many short sales they've listed and closed!