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Suits by Lenders against Guarantors/Anti-Deficiency Protection

Posted by: on Wed, Oct 24, 2012

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Guarantors of a purchase-money loan on real property in Nevada should now be entitled to the anti-deficiency protections afforded under NRS 40.455 through 40.459, which statutes limit the amount of any deficiency judgment to the lesser of either:

1. The amount by which the amount of the indebtedness which was secured exceeds the fair market value of the property sold at the time of the sale, with interest from the date of the sale, or
2. The amount which is the difference between the amount for which the property was actually sold and the amount of the indebtedness which was secured, with interest from the date of sale.

The Nevada legislature has recently enacted Nevada Assembly Bill 273, which provides a third subsection with applicability in situations where a foreclosing lender “acquired the right to obtain the judgment from a person who previously held that right”, such as where an originating lender sell a note to a third party lender. In such a situation, the deficiency amount is limited (beyond the amounts described in NRS 40.459(1) and (2), described above), to also include the further limitation to any available deficiency that: “If the person seeking the judgment acquired the right to obtain the judgment from a person who previously held that right, the amount [of deficiency recoverable is limited by the amount] by which the amount of the consideration paid for that right exceeds the fair market value of the property sold at the time of sale or the amount for which the property was actually sold, whichever is greater, with interest from the date of sale and reasonable costs, whichever is the lesser amount.” The intent of the Nevada legislature was clearly to provide certain protections to guarantors.

The Nevada Supreme Court has expressly held that guarantors are entitled to the benefits of Nevada’s anti-deficiency legislation, stating that without such protection, the court “would thereby detach lenders from the deficiency standard imposed by the legislature and subject guarantors to the vagaries of a lender’s scruples in every transaction.First Interstate Bank of Nevada v. Shields, 102 Nev. 616, 619, 730 P.2d 429 (1986) (emphasis supplied). The Ninth Circuit, applying the Shields decision, has similarly held that guarantors are entitled to the benefits and protections of Nevada’s anti-deficiency legislation. FBW Enterprises v. The Victorio Company, 821 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir. 1987).

The Nevada legislature has recently enacted new legislation aimed at avoiding the scenario of a lender suing a guarantor without first foreclosing. Under Nevada Assembly Bill 273, signed by the Nevada Governor on June 10, 2011, the following language was added to NRS 40.495:

(4) If, before a foreclosure sale of real property, the obligee commences an action against a guarantor, surety or other obligor, other than the mortgagor or grantor of a deed of trust, to enforce an obligation to pay, satisfy, or purchase all or part of an indebtedness or obligation secured by a mortgage or lien upon the real property:

(a) The court must hold a hearing and take evidence presented by either party concerning the fair market value of the property as of the date of the commencement of the action. Notice of such hearing must be served upon all defendants who have appeared in the action and against whom a judgment is sought, or upon their attorneys of record, at least 15 days before the date set for the hearing.

(b) After the hearing, if the court awards a money judgment against the debtor, guarantor or surety who is personally liable for the debt, the court must not render judgment for more than:

(1) The amount by which the amount of the indebtedness exceeds the fair market value of the property as of the date of the commencement of the action; or

(2) If a foreclosure sale is concluded before a judgment is entered, the amount that is the difference between the amount for which the property was actually sold and the amount of the indebtedness which was secured, whichever is the lesser amount.

(Emphasis Supplied). The foregoing statute is designed to avoid the type of double-recovery a lender might try to obtain by suing a guarantor on an obligation without having first foreclosed on any collateral (particularly real property) available. Such an action would preclude guarantors from receiving the benefits of the anti-deficiency legislation of NRS 40.495 by establishing the fair market value of the property at a hearing as part of the action. The new statutory language certainly shows the Nevada legislature’s clear intent to provide the anti-deficiency protections to guarantors, and is a logical extension of the application of Nevada’s anti-deficiency laws.

About the Authors: The law firm of Albright, Stoddard, Warnick & Albright is an A-V Rated Nevada-based full-service law firm having attorneys licensed in Nevada, California and Utah. Our firm’s practice includes a strong emphasis on personal injury accidents. Call us at 702-384-7111.

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