Definition: A deed in lieu of foreclosure is an option for a mortgagee or borrower to avoid foreclosure by voluntarily transferring ownership of the property to the mortgager or lender to satisfy a loan that is in default.
The deed in lieu of foreclosure offers several advantages to both the borrower and the lender. The principal advantage to the borrower is that it immediately releases him/her from most or all of the debt associated with the defaulted loan. The borrower also avoids the public notoriety of a foreclosure proceeding and may receive more generous terms than he/she would in a formal foreclosure. Another benefit to the borrower is that it hurts his/her credit less than a foreclosure does. Advantages to a lender include a reduction in the time and cost of a repossession, lower risk of borrower revenge (metal theft and vandalism of the property before sheriff eviction), and additional advantages if the borrower subsequently files for bankruptcy.
In order to be considered a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the indebtedness must be secured by the real estate being transferred. Both sides must enter into the transaction voluntarily and in good faith. The settlement agreement must have total consideration that is at least equal to the fair market value of the property being conveyed. Sometimes, the lender will not proceed with a deed in lieu of foreclosure if the outstanding indebtedness of the borrower exceeds the current fair value of the property; in other cases, a lender will agree since it will likely end up with the property anyway through the costly foreclosure process.