Suppose you can’t pay your mortgage, and you can’t sell your house because you owe more than it’s worth. You’re in quite a pickle.

You can stay until the sheriff shows up with the move-out order. Or, as more people are doing these days, you can try to escape your debt with a short sale.

Put the house on the market, and find a buyer willing to pay less than the mortgage amount. Then convince the bank to eat the difference, letting you off the hook for the remaining debt.

Short sales made up 8 percent of all home sales in metro St. Louis this spring, according to figures from RealtyTrac. Foreclosures make up 10 percent.

Attorney Elizabeth Kayser has made a specialty out of negotiating such deals, and it’s not a pleasant business. There are only two winners — the real estate agent, who gets a commission, and the attorney. There are losers aplenty.