In March of this year, I reported on the newly introduced Bank of America Cooperative Short Sale Program.  As noted in that post, the two key elements of this new program are the relocation fee of $2500 paid to the sellers, and the timeline.  Instead of waiting for the short sale seller to find a buyer, this program was designed so that a seller could submit all paperwork in advance and be approved prior to a purchase offer.  According to Bank of America, by approving the property value and seller hardship up front, this would decrease the amount of time needed to process the actual sale and approve the buyer once an offer is presented to the bank.  At that time, the bank indicated this would shorten that approval timeframe to about 10 days.

So when my negotiator called last Friday to let me know that Bank of America had determined that one of my files might be eligible for a Cooperative Short Sale, my first thought was, “Great!”  I figured that we’d be able to get this closed quickly as we already have a strong buyer, and my sellers would receive $2500 to help with moving costs.

I then asked about any down-side to my sellers accepting the Cooperative Short Sale versus a traditional B of A short sale, and my negotiator’s response was surprising.  She said that in her experience, (and she has been a full-time short sale negotiator for several years), the Bank of America Cooperative Program takes about 6-8 weeks LONGER than their regular short sales.  Longer???  The normal B of A processing time is 6-8 weeks, and now participation in this program would essentially double that?  According to my negotiator, the reason it takes longer is because there is a more intense review of all seller financials – probably needed to justify the $2500 relocation payment.

My first thought as a Realtor protecting my seller’s interests, is that participating in this program could double the chances of a buyer to walk!  It is hard enough to keep buyers waiting 6-8 weeks for an approval, but to extend that period for another 2 months is asking for trouble!  I have also heard it rumored that by performing a more intense financial review B of A is actually looking to see who has sufficient assets to target with a deficiency judgment.  I don’t have any evidence to support this, but it could pose a potential risk if there is any question as to whether or not the seller’s loan is protected under the state’s anti-deficiency laws.

I presented the choice to my sellers who quickly decided that the risk of losing their buyers was not worth a $2500 gamble.  Who knows?  Their file might have been processed quickly, but on the other hand we might have ended-up back at square one looking for a new buyer.  It is definitely a choice that each seller will have to make based on their unique situation.  If anyone out there has experience with this B of A program, I’d love to hear from you!

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