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How can I Sell My Home If I’m Behind on My Mortgage?

If you’re behind on your mortgage payments and don’t see your situation improving, you might be thinking the only way out of this mess is to sell your home. But can you? The short answer is yes—that is, so long as your lender hasn’t foreclosed on your home yet.

It is possible to sell your home if you are behind on your mortgage; however, time is of the essence. Depending on how far behind you are, it will be more difficult and less financially advantageous the longer you wait. Your options are largely dictated by how much you owe, and how much your home is worth.

The foreclosure process begins once you fall behind on your mortgage payments. Miss just one payment, and you may soon receive a foreclosure notice in the mail. Once you’re more than 120 days late, your lender has the legal ability to reclaim your home and sell it to recoup its money—and yes, you’ll be forced to vacate the premises.

Adding to the pain, a foreclosure goes on your credit report and can drop your credit score by as much as 300 points, possibly more. This can hurt your ability to obtain a credit card, auto loan, or cellphone plan, and also prevent you from being able to qualify for another mortgage for many years.


But here’s the bright side: You have up until the day that foreclosure takes place to sell the home on your own. Still, the process of selling your house before foreclosure isn’t easy. Here’s what you need to know.


Can you sell a home if you’re behind on your mortgage?


Whether or not you can sell your house before foreclosure will depend, first and foremost, on whether your house is worth more or less than what you owe on your mortgage.

If you’ve fallen behind on your loan payments but aren’t underwater yet—meaning the fair market value of your home is greater than what you owe on your home loan—you can sell your house and use the profits to pay back your lender.

If you choose to go this route, you’d follow the same steps you’d normally take to sell a home: You’d get an agent, accept an offer, and fulfill any contingencies before closing on the sale. Typically, you don’t need to get your lender’s permission to sell your home this way.

However, if your home is worth less than what you owe on your mortgage, you’ll need to sell your property as a short sale to avoid foreclosure. The caveat is that your bank has to be on board with this kind of transaction. And you would want an experienced agent on your side helping you with a short sale of your home.

Under Water

Being “under water” on your mortgage can be devastating. It’s when the fair market value of your home is less than what you owe, meaning that when you sell you will still not have enough money to pay off your mortgage debt.

This is when people might start to ask, “Can I sell my house to avoid foreclosure?” If you are under water on your mortgage, you could decide to initiate a short sale and ask for the remaining principal on your mortgage to be forgiven, thereby avoiding foreclosure. For this, you need to convince your lender to get on board.

For a short sale, you will need to get hire an agent to sell your home and put together a proposal to your lender explaining that you want them to forgive the difference between what you owe and the proceeds of the upcoming sale.

You will also need to provide proof that you cannot continue to make payments. Your lender can accept or reject the proposal or send some demands of their own.

A short sale is never ideal, as it can damage your credit severely; however, it is much easier to recover from than a foreclosure. Furthermore, you will be able to remain in your home up until the sale, whereas a foreclosure would require you to leave.

Some lenders prefer short sales to foreclosures since a short sale does not require them to spend time and resources dealing with the property.

Here’s how a short sale works: Let’s say the bid you get on your home is so low that it won’t cover the total amount you owe on your mortgage. If you accept the offer, you’re going to end up “short” on paying back your lender. That’s OK only if your bank has agreed to accept less than what’s owed on the loan.

Getting your bank’s blessing, however, may be difficult. Since lenders lose money with short sales, they’re not always eager to approve these transactions. But some lenders actually prefer short sales over foreclosing and repossessing homes, since owning and selling property can be huge hassles.

Before approving a short sale, your bank will require you to submit some paperwork, including your offer letter and a “hardship letter” explaining why you can no longer make your mortgage payments, along with financial documents such as income statements or medical bills to back that up. Also, most lenders will have your home appraised to determine if the offer you’ve received is fair. If it is, they may allow the deal to go through—though there may be stipulations.

Indeed, lenders will often counter short sale offers with their own demands in an effort to raise their bottom line. For example, buyers might hear, “We’ll accept your offer, but you’re responsible for all repairs, wire transfers, and notary fees.” It’s ultimately up to you, though, to decide whether you’re willing to absorb these extra costs. The good news: Your real estate agent can help you negotiate these terms with your bank.

As a home seller, a short sale is preferable to foreclosure, since short sales do way less damage to your credit score than a foreclosure. This means you’ll be in better shape to apply for a mortgage and buy a new home down the road. In addition, you get to stay in the home until the sale is completed. (Foreclosures force homeowners to vacate.) You also avoid the shame of having your property repossessed by your bank.

Trying to avoid a foreclosure and save the house from a foreclosure auction in Harford County, MD and surrounding areas? Get a no-obligation cash offer here - or contact an experienced agent here to stop foreclosure and start short sale process.


Behind on your house payments and need to sell now? We buy houses fast from homeowners in Harford County, MD and surrounds in all kinds of financial situations. Get started by requesting a free CASH offer here!

Can I Sell My House If I'm Behind on Payments


When facing financial instability while paying for a mortgage loan, homeowners usually seek mortgage forbearance or a loan modification. But in cases where the missed payments have already piled up, it can be tough to negotiate with the mortgage company. This is when most people decide to sell their property to pay what they owe.

It is possible to sell a house even when the owner is behind on mortgage payments as long as it is not yet foreclosed. If the homeowner is really financially distressed, the lender may agree on a short sale. However, if the house has enough equity, an alternative is selling to a cash buyer or real estate investor since they purchase houses as-is and process sales faster.

To learn more about selling a house when behind on mortgage payments, continue on... We cover everything you need to know, from your options when selling to other alternatives to putting your house for sale.

Can I Sell My Home If I'm Behind on Mortgage Payments?


Yes. You can sell your home even if you are behind mortgage payments so long as it is not yet foreclosed and already at auction.

In fact, putting a house for sale before foreclosure has become a common real estate transaction since more and more individuals and families are falling behind on their mortgage payments.

Before we proceed to discuss how you can go about selling your house, whether through a short sale or other means, it is crucial that you understand what happens when you miss paying your monthly mortgage payments.

Pre-Foreclosure Process


When you take out a mortgage loan, your property assumes a lien. In other words, if you fail to pay the agreed-upon amount, the mortgage servicer, bank, or lender will legally take ownership of your house and, almost in all cases, sell it to recoup their losses.

This can significantly damage your credit report and impact your chances to qualify for another mortgage.

Although the foreclosure process varies from state to state, here's how it generally works:

1. Default

If you missed your mortgage payments three months in a row, the lender would inform you that you're in default and give you a chance to catch up on your loan.

2. Public Notice

If you fail to pay, the mortgage lender files a notice of default or foreclosure notice in the county clerk and declares intent to sell your house. The foreclosure process would then commence.

3. Foreclosure

Foreclosure usually spans from 90 to 120 days, depending on the state. This is when it is most ideal to sell the property to a cash buyer or opt for a short sale.

4. Auction

If you did not ask the mortgage lender for new payment arrangements or you didn't sell the house through a short sale or a cash buyer, the property will be sold in an auction and the mortgage servicer will keep the money earned.

5. Post-foreclosure

Failure to move out will result in being evicted from your property usually 30 days from the auction.

Selling a House When Behind on Payments


Many homeowners who are being foreclosed on by lenders wait to sell the house. However, homeowners who act with urgency can sell the house before auction and use the proceeds to pay for their mortgage debt.

Selling a house when behind on your mortgage payments is not as daunting as it may seem— it only becomes difficult when a homeowner doesn't have an idea regarding real estate sales.

To help you navigate a home sale when you're behind on payments, here are your four main options:

1. Sell to a Cash Buyer

Selling to a cash buyer or real estate investor is probably the fastest way to sell your home to avoid foreclosure. Cash buyers are known to purchase houses in as fast as seven days, so you immediately get the money in your bank.

They also cover closing costs and other processing fees⁠— another reason why you might want to sell to the investor buyer.

Here's a detailed list of reasons why you should consider selling a house to a cash buyer:

  • Fast and Flexible Closing: Selling off-market to a cash buyer means you get to pay your mortgage balance to the bank immediately. Most homebuyers close in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, selling a house on the real estate market can take 49 to 79 days on average. This can take longer when you are behind on your mortgage payments and facing foreclosure.

  • No Appraisal: A traditional house sale requires an appraisal for mortgage companies to determine if the purchase of the property is worth financing. Cash buyers remove appraisal from the equation, which means a faster sale timeline and fewer expenses.

  • No Repairs Needed: If you're behind on mortgage payments due to a hard financial situation, the last thing you want to spend money on is house repairs and renovations. Luckily, cash buyers purchase houses as-is, eliminating the cost of expensive repairs.

  • No Marketing and Showings: Since selling to a cash buyer is direct, you won't have to list and market the property on the MLS as well as schedule showings. This saves you time, effort, and money.

  • No Agent Commissions: There is no need for a real estate agent when you request a fair cash offer. This means you won't have to pay a 6% real estate agent commission.

  • Less Paperwork: Selling a house on the traditional market would require you to deal with a lot of paperwork. Fortunately, since you're selling directly to a cash buyer, they'll handle almost everything for you and that includes paperwork.

  • More Certainty: There is less uncertainty when selling to a cash buyer since they don't rely on financing. Remember, these prospective buyers have cash on hand, so they can really help you avoid foreclosure, unlike retail buyers who still need the approval of mortgage lenders.

5 Steps on Selling a House to a Cash Buyer When You're Behind on Payments


Now that we've gone over the perks of selling your home to a cash buyer when you're behind on your mortgage, let's talk about the steps to get you started.

1. Request a Fair Cash Offer

Requesting an offer from a cash buyer is simple. You just need to search for cash home buyers online and visit their website or give them a call. They'll typically provide you with a no-commitment offer.

Ask several cash buyers for an offer if you have time before foreclosure and don't just settle with the one closest to the estimated fair market value of your home. Make sure they can actually close on your property before auction and are a reputable cash buyer.

2. Home Walkthrough

In order to make an accurate offer, the cash buyer may want to visit your home. They'll check for any repairs or improvements needed, especially structural ones. Note that they won't ask you to make any repairs since they buy houses as-is.

3. Select a Move-Out Date

If you're selling a house because you're behind on loan payments, you probably want to get rid of it fast. However, most cash buyers won't close on your property until you vacate it. Thus, select a move-out date and communicate it to your cash buyer to speed up the sale.

4. Review and Sign the Contract

If you accept a cash offer, the cash buyer will electronically provide you with a contract. They'll give you time to review the terms and ask questions. If everything is clear, you can sign the contract to make the home sale official.

5. Real Estate Closing

During closing, you would need to review and sign some paperwork. Once done, your house will be officially owned by the cash buyer and you'll receive the payment in your bank. You can then use the money to settle your missed loan payments, including late fees.

2. Short Sale


A short sale happens when a homeowner is in a difficult financial situation due to job loss, health issues, or other reasons and sells their property for less than what they owe their mortgage servicer.

Most lenders forgive the remaining mortgage balance and accept the loss to remove the hassle of foreclosure in a short sale. However, there are also cases when they get a deficiency judgment and ask the homeowner to pay the remaining balance once the short sale is over.

Typically, a home goes into a short sale when its value is less than what the owner owes and the homeowner has proven financial hardship through a proof of income/assets or a hardship letter.

A short sale can take a few months as it involves a lot of processing on the bank's end. Generally, though, the homeowner should submit the following in a timely fashion for a short sale to be approved:

  • Comps or comparative market analysis of your home

  • A hardship letter

  • Tax returns from the past two years

  • Payroll stubs

  • Income statements

  • Bank statements

  • W-2s from the past two years

  • Request for mortgage assistance or financial statement

  • Medical bills (if applicable)

3. Sell with a Real Estate Agent


If you're still far from facing foreclosure (i.e., you just had your first missed payment) and the real estate market in your area is hot, you may consider selling your house with a real estate agent.

Selling property traditionally can possibly land you better offers since the buyer pool is larger. Agents will be able to sell your house for a fair price even when you haven't paid your mortgage in months.

The downside, however, of selling your house with a real estate agent and listing on the traditional market is that you would have to go through appraisal, inspection, repairs, and improvements like amping the curb appeal, etc.

You would also need enough money for staging and cleaning. These are expensive to keep up with and can be an additional burden to you financially while facing pre-foreclosure.

4. Sell For Sale by Owner (FSBO)

To avoid commission fees and gain as much money as possible, many homeowners try to sell their property on their own. While this may work for some, in most cases, this leads to failure in selling the house.

Alternatives to Selling Your Home When Behind on Payments


Although you're already thinking that selling your home is the only solution when you're behind on your mortgage payments, you actually have a few options to get back on track and avoid pre-foreclosure. They are the following:

Mortgage Forbearance

Mortgage forbearance is a short-term relief or an "extended grace period" provided by the lender to the homeowner when they owe money for monthly payments.

In other words, your mortgage servicer won't collect payments from you for a certain period until you can get your finances in order.

This can last from months to years, depending on what you have agreed upon with your lender.

Loan Modification

A loan modification is an agreement with your lender or bank to change the terms of the mortgage loan, so you avoid foreclosure. They may extend the length of payment of your loan, lower the interest rate, etc. This can help you avoid damaging your credit report.

To receive a loan modification, you must file a request for mortgage assistance and submit some financial documents. These include your pay stubs, income statements, monthly mortgage statements, bank statements, utility bills, etc.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you are a wage earner and experiencing financial difficulties, you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in your local bankruptcy court. This is a last resort alternative if you are facing foreclosure as it negatively impacts your credit significantly.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy or the wage earner's plan allows you to pay your lender or bank in installments within three to five years.

According to the United States Courts, the most significant advantage of filing for Chapter 13 is that it saves houses from foreclosure. Check with your local bankruptcy court if you can still qualify for this relief.

Final Thoughts: Can I Sell My Home If I'm Behind on Payments from Mortgage Lenders?

Letting go of your property when facing financial distress is definitely heartbreaking. However, selling your house and downsizing when continuously behind on payments can save you from bigger headaches down the road such as losing your home to foreclosure.

If you are not granted mortgage forbearance or a loan modification doesn't make sense in your situation, you can start looking for prospective buyers. Prioritizing investors or cash buyers can make the home sale process faster and a lot easier compared to working with a real estate agent.

Here at Easy Outs Homes, we'll buy your house fast and won't charge you any fees or extra costs. What's more, we won't ask you for any repairs and renovations, so the money you get at closing can potentially cover your debts!

To get a fair cash offer today on your house in Harford County, Maryland and surrounds, fill out our form here or contact us at 443-616-5486 to learn more about selling your house when behind on payments.

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