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What is a Deed in Lieu?

Did someone tell you a deed in lieu might be a good option for your situation? And you responded that you would consider it — all the while thinking, “In lieu of what?”

The quick answer is: in lieu of foreclosure. And  a deed in lieu is, in fact, a quick answer to the problem  of a mortgage default —quicker, that is, than a drawn-out foreclosure proceeding. In a deed in lieu of foreclosure arrangement, you agree simply to sign over your property to your mortgage company in exchange for an immediate release of your debt. You still lose your home but your credit rating suffers less damage because your mortgage is recorded as paid off rather than defaulted.

Your lender must agree to the arrangement, of course, but remember the lender has even more incentive than you do to avoid foreclosure, which would cost a lot more and achieve the same result.

The main elements of a deed in lieu of foreclosure are as follows:

  • You make a case for the arrangement to your mortgage company, explaining your situation and the likelihood that you will default, if you have not already.
  • You and the lender sign an agreement setting forth the terms of the arrangement.
  • You execute a deed transferring ownership of the property to the lender.
  • The lender marks the mortgage note as paid and issues you a full release from the debt, including a waiver of any right to come back and demand the difference between what you owed and the price eventually paid to the lender for the house.
  • Your credit report will show a deed in lieu rather than a foreclosure and you may request removal of the deed in lieu from your credit report after seven years.

A Florida real estate attorney experienced in hardship negotiations can help you determine whether deed in lieu is, in fact, the best option for you.

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