Phantom income haunts short sale

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

DEAR BERNICE: We are upside down and are thinking about selling our home using a short sale. Our agent said that because we had refinanced our property twice, that we could have a problem with "phantom income." She advised us to talk to our accountant. What does refinancing have to do with this and what is phantom income? --Paul S. DEAR PAUL: First, no matter what your financial circumstances are, it's smart to talk to your CPA or tax attorney before placing any property on the market. For example, you might think that you can claim the $250,000 (for singles) or $500,000 (for couples) tax break on the sale of your primary residence. However, if you haven't met all the qualifications in terms of the property being your primary residence, you could end up losing the deduction. In your case, it's a good thing that you have a well-informed Realtor who advised you to see an accountant first. When you purchase a home, the original loans that you place on the property...