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The maker of the fico credit score, Fair Isaac & Co., released two tables that show how a short sale, foreclosure, and bankruptcy degrade the score of a consumer starting with a low, medium, and high score. In general, the old adage, "The higher they climb, the farther they fall," holds true for credit scores.
A short sale is better over time as long as you don’t have a deficiency judgment for the loss that the bank took with the sale. "FICO said homeowners with short-sales and foreclosures on their records ended up with similar credit scores, assuming their scores were similar as distressed homeowners (see illustration below)."
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FICO studied how mortgage delinquencies such as late payments, short sales, and foreclosures impact credit scores. They used three hypothetical consumers with credit scores of 680, 720, and 780. They used three hypothetical consumers with credit scores of 680, 720, and 780.
Reporting is up to the lender, but generally, a short sale is going to cause about the same amount of damage to your credit report and FICO score as a foreclosure. At least there won’t be a public record as there might have been with a foreclosure.
You will also be unable to apply for new mortgage financing for a temporary period. Contrary to popular belief, a short sale can be just as damaging to your credit score as a foreclosure. How Does a short sale affect My Credit? A short sale can drop your credit score by as much as 140 points or more, depending on your current score.
Thus, no distinction is made in FICO ratings between getting rid of an underwater home by short sale versus losing it to foreclosure. [For more information on the FICO study’s data regarding the effect of short sales versus foreclosures on credit scores, see housing wire article, Short sales and foreclosures equally degrade FICO scores.]
A short sale is often used as an alternative to foreclosure because it mitigates additional fees and costs for both the creditor and borrower. The negative impact on the borrower’s credit score is typically smaller in a short sale than in a foreclosure, but a short sale usually involves a lot more paperwork for all parties.