The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a U.S. government agency, warns consumers that there are states in which homeowners are responsible for the difference between the value of your property and the amount you still owed on the mortgage loan. This amount, which could be tens of thousands of dollars, is called a deficiency.

Without a proper waiver of deficiency, the lender may have a right to demand the balance and may sue the homeowner to collect in full, plus penalties and legal expenses. It is important to request and receive properly signed documents that waive all future obligations on the loan.

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