The Optimal Choice for Lenders Facing Defaults: Short Sale, Foreclose, or REO

Terrence M. Clauretie and Nasser Daneshvary

Online First™, 19 August 2009


When mortgage borrowers default and have no desire or ability to keep their property, then loss mitigation involves a sale of the property via one of the following options: (1) the lender allows pre-foreclosure “short sale” by the borrower, (2) the lender institutes the foreclosure process under a notice of default and the property is sold during the process by the borrower, and (3) the lender forecloses on the property, takes title, and sells the property in the market as real estate owned (REO). Sale of the property in the above three options is conducted by a motivated seller, either the owner or the lender, who desires to sell the property as quickly as possible. Thus, relative to a no-default sale, the house is most likely to be sold at a discounted price. It is generally expected that the discount would be lower in the case of a “short sale.” This option, however, may result in a longer marketing time, thus a higher total loss, than the other two options. We developed a model that allows simultaneous estimation of price and time-on-market effects of “short sales,” foreclosures, and REO options. We find that the short-sale option has the lowest-price discount, but significantly higher costs associated with marketing time. The pattern of price discount and marketing time reverses as we move to a sale while in the process of foreclosure and to a sale with an REO status.Keywords  Housing prices – Default – Short Sale – Foreclose – REO

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