Donald Gilbert and his family moved into this Avalon Park home eight years ago, but when income from his small business took a hit with the economic downturn, he tried talking to his lender about modifying the loan to get a lower payment.
"They wouldn't cooperate, by no means, no stretch of the imagination," Gilbert recalls. "So we had to look into selling."
But the house that once sold for $300,000 is only worth about $140,000 now, so Gilbert decided to do a short sale to stay out of foreclosure.
That's when he got a letter saying the bank would not only forgive the difference from what he owes to what the house is worth, but give him a check for $3,000.
"It's a win-win situation for us," Gilbert says.
Realtor John Hayton mostly deals in short sales. He says the reality of real estate has changed in the last few months, where some banks offer what they call a "relocation payment" or "cash consideration" at closing.
Some have offered $20,000, up to $35,000, but it depends on the bank's program.
"Chase did it," Hayton explains. "Bank of America has done it. Citi Bank did it. So approach your bank. Approach your lender to see what's going on."
Banks are willing to pay up because they'd end up paying even more later.
Because if the house does fall into foreclosure, the bank could spend thousands cleaning up the yard, changing out the fixtures, just getting it ready to put back on the market. And in Florida, foreclosures are now taking two years to get through the court system, costing banks thousands in legal fees.
"Obviously they don't want to do that, and as a homeowner, you want to do the right thing as well," Hayton says.
But there are some downsides. You need to be behind on your mortgage payments, and prove some type of financial hardship that would lead to foreclosure.
"It's going to hurt your credit, there's no doubt about that," Hayton says. "You're probably going to be two or three years away before you can buy a house again, but the upside is that it's a lot better then a foreclosure."
Besides paying homeowners at closing, agreeing to a what's called a "cooperative short sale" with your bank also speeds up the process from about six months to as quick as six weeks.