How To Sell A House Underwater Before It’s Too Late

Underwater House? Here’s How to Sell Your House Before It’s Too Late

How To Sell A House Underwater Before It’s Too Late

Owning a home is a cornerstone of the American dream for many homeowners. Yet, when the market value of your home drops below the mortgage balance, leaving you with what’s known as an underwater mortgage, this dream can quickly feel more like a nightmare. 

In today’s volatile real estate market, more homeowners find themselves facing this daunting situation. But even if you’re underwater on your home loan, all hope is not lost. There are strategies to sell your house before it’s too late.

How to Sell a House Underwater

The realization that your home is worth less than you owe is distressing. An underwater mortgage loan can make you feel trapped, and unable to move forward with your life. However, understanding your options and taking decisive action can turn the tide. Here’s how to navigate the choppy waters of selling an underwater house.

Firstly, it’s crucial to know the current value of your property. Various online calculators can give you a ballpark figure, but for a more accurate assessment, consider hiring a professional real estate agent. They can provide a comprehensive market analysis, showing how your home stacks up against others in the housing market.

If looking for a home buyer seems the best route, you might wonder how to start when your home’s value is submerged beneath your mortgage balance. There are a few avenues to explore:

1. Short Sale: A short sale occurs when the sale price of the home is less than the outstanding mortgage balance and the lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed. While not ideal, a short sale can be a viable option to avoid foreclosure, but it requires your lender’s approval. It can also impact your credit score, so it’s seen as a last resort.

2. Deed instead of Foreclosure: In a deed instead of foreclosure, you voluntarily transfer the ownership of your home to the mortgage lender to satisfy a loan that is in default and avoid foreclosure. It’s another form of last resort that can have a significant impact on your credit report, but it removes the burden of an underwater mortgage.

3. Loan Modification: Sometimes, a loan modification can make your mortgage more manageable. This could involve reducing the interest rate, extending the term of the loan, or even reducing the principal balance. While this won’t immediately solve being underwater, it can make monthly mortgage payments more manageable and provide some breathing room to wait for the real estate market to improve.

4. Refinance: Under specific programs, like the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), homeowners with negative equity can refinance their mortgages to take advantage of a lower interest rate, thereby reducing their monthly payments. Although HARP has ended, its successor programs continue to offer similar benefits for eligible borrowers.

Selling a home with an underwater mortgage is undeniably challenging, but with the right approach and assistance, it’s possible to navigate this difficult situation. 

Consulting with a knowledgeable real estate agent and your mortgage lender can provide personalized advice based on your unique circumstances, like the value of the property, helping you to make informed decisions and move forward toward a brighter financial future.

Consider Building Up Equity

When facing an underwater mortgage, one path forward is to focus on building up equity in your home. Home equity increases as you make a down payment for your mortgage balance and as the value of your home appreciates.

While this may seem challenging when your home is underwater, some strategies can help bridge the gap between what you owe and the home’s market value.

Loan Modifications

A loan modification can be a lifeline for homeowners struggling with an underwater mortgage. This process involves altering the terms of your home loan to make the monthly mortgage payments more affordable. Modifications can include lowering the interest rate, extending the loan’s term, or reducing the principal amount owed.

By securing a loan modification, you not only make your payments more manageable but also may gradually increase your home’s equity as you continue to pay down the loan balance. 

It’s important to communicate with your mortgage lender or servicer about your financial situation. They may have specific programs designed for borrowers facing financial hardship, including those with underwater mortgages.


Forbearance is another tool that can aid homeowners in distress, particularly those experiencing temporary financial difficulties. 

In a forbearance agreement, your lender allows you to reduce or pause your monthly payments for a set period. It’s crucial to understand that forbearance does not erase what you owe; instead, it provides temporary relief, giving you time to stabilize your finances.

During the forbearance period, you can use any financial reprieve to address immediate financial concerns. Meanwhile, if the real estate market improves and the value of your property increases, you might find yourself in a better position equity-wise when the forbearance period ends. 

It’s worth noting, however, that you’ll need to work out a plan with your lender to address the missed payments, which could involve extending the term of your loan or increasing your future monthly payments.

Both loan modifications and forbearance require careful consideration and clear communication with your lender. These options can provide a pathway to building up equity in your home, moving you closer to getting back above water and improving your financial stability. 

Remember, your lender has a vested interest in helping you stay in your home and avoid foreclosure, so don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss your options.

Using a HIRO (High Loan-To-Value Refinance)

For homeowners grappling with an underwater mortgage, the High Loan-To-Value (HIRO) refinance program represents a beacon of hope. 

Designed for those who are current on their mortgage payments but unable to refinance due to a lack of equity in their homes, HIRO allows borrowers to take advantage of lower interest rates and potentially reduce their monthly mortgage payments without the need for traditional refinancing requirements, like a certain amount of equity or a specific credit score.

The key advantage of a HIRO refinance is its ability to help homeowners stay in their homes by making their mortgage payments more affordable, even when the current value of their home is less than the outstanding loan balance. This program can be particularly valuable in a housing market where home values have dipped, leaving many feeling stuck and without options.

Underwater House? Here's How to Sell Your House Before It's Too Late

Consider a Cash Offer on Your Home

In some situations, especially for those looking to sell an inherited house that’s underwater, receiving a cash offer on your home might be the quickest way to resolve a difficult situation. 

Cash offers often come from investors or companies specializing in purchasing homes directly from homeowners. These buyers may be more flexible and willing to take on homes that are underwater or need repairs.

While a cash offer might not always meet the full market value of your home, it can provide a quick and hassle-free way to sell, especially if you’re looking to avoid the complications of a traditional sale or using a credit card.

This approach eliminates many of the closing costs associated with selling a home and can expedite the selling process, allowing you to move on from an underwater property more swiftly.

Consider a Short-Sale with Your Lender

A short sale is an option worth considering if you’re unable to refinance or if a cash offer doesn’t fully address your needs. 

In a short sale, you sell your home for less than the remaining mortgage balance, with the lender’s permission. 

This route can be beneficial if the lender agrees to forgive the remaining debt, offering you a way out of an underwater mortgage without enduring the lasting impact of a foreclosure. However, it’s important to understand that a short sale may have implications for your credit report and could involve a lengthy process with your lender. 

Moreover, not all lenders will agree to a short sale, and they may require proof of financial hardship before considering this option. Despite these challenges, a short sale can be a more manageable last resort for those seeking to escape the burden of an underwater home.

A short sale might be a viable option if refinancing doesn’t align with your current situation, such as when trying to sell your house in Chapter 13 bankruptcy or dealing with an inherited home that’s underwater


In the challenging journey of navigating an underwater mortgage, understanding your options is the first step toward finding a solution that aligns with your circumstances and goals. Whether it’s through refinancing options like HIRO, considering cash offers, or exploring the possibility of a short sale, there are paths forward to help you regain your financial footing.

If you’re looking to sell your property quickly and without the hassle of traditional market listings, remember that we buy houses in Wichita Falls. Our expertise and swift process can be especially beneficial for those who find themselves saying, “I need to sell my house fast in Houston, Texas.” 

At Four 19 Properties, we’re dedicated to providing homeowners with direct, efficient solutions to sell their homes as-is, ensuring a smooth and speedy transaction.

Don’t let an underwater mortgage hold you back. Contact us today to learn how we can help you move forward to a brighter financial future.

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