Arizona Anti-Deficiency Laws Are Changing
The following information was provided by Marc McCain, Attorney at law, regarding the changes that are coming regarding the Arizona Anti-Deficiency legislation.
A deficiency is the amount that you still owe the bank after the bank forecloses. If you are selling your home short of what you owe, or you are about to experience a foreclosure, then this information is important for you. As always, please seek professional legal council when it comes to your particular situation. I can help you sell your house, but I’m not an attorney. We leave that up to the legal experts.
Arizona’s anti-deficiency laws are changing effective September 30, 2009!
The change is designed to limit the type of borrowers that will qualify for anti-deficiency treatment. Set forth below is a general outline of Arizona law regarding when a borrower may be subject to a deficiency action or sued on its note following a foreclosure or short sale. However, borrowers must understand that these are only general rules — every situation must be analyzed carefully based on the specific facts – consult with a professional at all times to determine your rights and obligations in connection with a foreclosure or short sale.
- In Arizona, if a borrower fails to pay its loan, a lender can foreclose its Deed of Trust lien either judicially per A.R.S. § 33-721
- If the foreclosure price does not pay a lender what it is owed, the lender may generally seek a deficiency against the borrower for the difference. However, certain states, including Arizona, have what are called anti-deficiency laws that bar a lender from seeking a deficiency in certain situations.
- In determining if anti-deficiency rules apply, the first step is to confirm what law applies to the loan, particularly the lender’s remedies under the Promissory Note. The applicable law should NOT be assumed. Read your Promissory Note and other loan documents carefully and understand their terms.
- Assuming Arizona law applies to the lender’s rights under the Promissory Note, Arizona’s anti-deficiency laws are found in 2 places – in A.R.S. § 33-729(A) (regarding judicial foreclosures), and A.R.S. § 33-814(G) (regarding trustee’s sales).
- In both judicial foreclosures and trustee’s sales, anti-deficiency rules apply only if the property being foreclosed meets the following criteria: (a) 2½ acres or less; and (b) limited to and utilized as a single one-family or single two-family dwelling. However, on July 10, 2009 Governor Brewer signed into law a change to A.R.S. § 33-814(G) which will take effect September 30, 2009. In addition to the above requirements, the trustee’s sale statute will also require that: (a) the trustor has lived in the property for at least 6 consecutive months; and (b) a certificate of occupancy has been issued. Until September 30, 2009, there is NO requirement that the trustor use the property as a residence – residential investment properties satisfy the anti-deficiency criteria. Effective September 30, 2009, investment properties sold at trustee’s sale will NOT qualify for anti-deficiency treatment if the trustor has not lived in the property for at least 6 consecutive months. Commercial properties and loans secured by residential homes being developed for sale but never used as dwellings don’t qualify for anti-deficiency treatment. In addition, a deed of trust that is a lien against more than one property will not be subject to anti-deficiency rules — the deed of trust needs to be a lien against a single trust property.
- A.R.S. § 33-729(A) also requires that the loan be a purchase money (“PM”). However, the trustee’s sale statute, A.R.S. § 33-814(G), does NOT require that the loan be a PM loan. A PM loan doesn’t lose its PM nature when it is refinanced. However, cash out refi’s raise interesting issues.
- In a judicial foreclosure, only a PM lender on qualifying residential property is prevented from seeking a deficiency; a nonpurchase money (“NPM”) lender is not – it can obtain a deficiency following a foreclosure or sue the borrower on the note.
- In a trustee’s sale, both PM and NPM lenders that foreclose on qualifying property are prevented from seeking a deficiency and from suing directly on the note.
- Junior liens extinguished by a 1st position foreclosure may be able to sue on the note. The issue is whether the junior loan was a PM or NPM loan – if it was a PM loan on qualifying property, the lender can NOT sue the borrower on the note following the foreclosure; if it was a NPM loan, the lender CAN sue the borrower.
- If a lender can not seek a deficiency, then the lender can NOT waive its security and sue directly on its note. This means that a lender under a PM loan on qualifying property will NOT be able to sue the borrower on the note. This rule also applies to short sales. Note there are gray areas regarding cash out refi’s. Other Lender claims are also not barred – e.g. mortgage fraud.
- Even if anti-deficiency rules apply, a borrower will be liable to a lender for any diminution in value of the trust property due to voluntary waste. In other words, don’t damage the property, take fixtures, A/C units, etc., or let the Property go to waste.
- Real property taxes are NOT an owner’s personal obligation, but only a lien against the real property. However, HOA assessments ARE an owner’s personal obligation and if not paid can result in credit damage, lawsuits and other collection efforts.
- Last, but not least, consult with qualified tax professionals BEFORE deciding to do a short sale or foreclosure. 1099 income, gains, losses and other tax consequences may result from foreclosures, short sales and loan modifications. Know what tax consequences you will face and plan accordingly.