Short Sale Negotiation


In the second of a 2-part series, San Diego real estate broker Marti Kilby explains the short sale process.


 

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Well, we saw it coming, and sure enough, as a result of Senate Bill 458 2nd lien holders in California short sales are putting on the squeeze.  The bill was well intentioned, as it restricts 2nd lien holders in a short sale from issuing a deficiency judgment or demand that the sellers bring money to the table. 

But since the bill passed in July, I am increasingly seeing the 2nd lien holder holding out for a pay-off of as much as 35% of the remaining balance on the 2nd TD.  And they don’t care who brings it to the table.  I recently had a 2nd lien holder request that the seller ask her friends if they could contribute!  Are you kidding me?  The result of course is that 2nd lien holders may be blocking California short sales.

Case in point:  I have a short sale that I’m negotiating with servicer G—-T— in the 2nd position. They are demanding 25% of the outstanding balance on the 2nd, which is approximately $40K, so they want roughly $10K.  The 1st lien holder won’t allow more than 6% ($2400) to pay-off the 2nd.  The buyer is contributing another $2K and the selling agent and I are each kicking-in $1K…but that still puts us short of what the 2nd lien holder is demanding by $3600.

So, I’m in the process of trying to negotiate with G—-T— to lower their demand.  Don’t they understand that if they refuse to accept a lesser amount the property will foreclose and they’ll get nothing?  The 1st lien holder is holding firm at 6% and there is simply no other source of funds.  Will they lower their demand, or will this be a failed short sale, killed by the 2nd lien holder?

Well, as noted in Part 3, the clock started ticking on Monday, October 17, when I submitted the offer and estimated HUD1, and let’s see….today is Wednesday the 26th. Despite several emails and phone calls, no one has contacted me to confirm the new negotiator or let me know what the next steps will be. I feel as though the file has already slipped between the cracks…..

Just left a message for a supervisor…..

OK. Now it’s the 28th and I’ve no reply from anyone so I called again and finally got hold of a supervisor. And it appears my gut feeling was right and the offer is no where to be found. Arrrrggghhh! The supervisor set-up a task for me on Equator so at least I could be connected to the file, though they still have not requested I upload the offer.

So far, this has been a bit uncoordinated because the homeowner started the process and I’m coming in after the fact. More on Monday.

On November 1 I finally received a task to upload the offer into Equator and then on the 3rd received notice of some “additional items” needed by the mortgage insurance company…so it took about 2 weeks to actually get it in the system.

In the offer we requested a pay-off to the 2nd lien holder in the amount of $10,000, which is what the 2nd lien holder told us it would take to get it approved. On November 8 I received a counter offer from B of A….they only want to give the 2nd lien holder $6,000. I forwarded the counter to the 2nd lien holder and am waiting for a reply.

The good news is that B of A did not counter the offer price, which is considerably lower than what they originally requested, and they were pretty quick about issuing a counter. I’m not very hopeful however about the 2nd lien holder accepting $4,000 less…will keep you posted. We’re now at 26 days on this B of A Cooperative Short Sale…..

Whether you’re considering a short sale purchase, or the short sale of your own home, understanding the process will relieve some of the stress.  So here is what you can expect in a short sale. 

The first thing to understand about a short sale is that unlike a traditional equity sale there is an all-important 3rd  party that controls the fate of the deal:  And that’s the lender.  In order for a short sale to occur, the lender or lenders must approve the transaction.  This involves 3 items for their consideration:

  1. Can the current owner show sufficient financial hardship to prove that he cannot pay his mortgage?
  2. Is the price offered consistent with comparable sales in the area?  Obviously the bank wants to re-coup as much of their investment as possible.
  3. Will the bank or investor agree to settle for less than the amount owed, or will they choose to foreclose?

Step #1 – Pre-Qualification

Before taking a short sale listing it is the job of the Realtor to understand the financial requirements and pre-qualify the seller.  This involves having the sellers complete a financial worksheet and reviewing their income and assets.  Whether buying or selling, this is a critical step and one reason why working with an agent that is experienced in short sales is important.  If the sellers don’t financially qualify, there is no point going any further. 

Step #2 – It’s all about the Documentation

Once it has been determined that the sellers qualify, the Realtor or qualified short sale negotiator, will contact the seller’s lender and determine the exact requirements for submission as they are all slightly different.  It will also be determined at this point if the lender participates in the government HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) program as there may be incentives for both the sellers and the lender, and certain procedures may be streamlined.  In any case, the Realtor will work with the sellers and collect all the necessary documentation.  This will include:

  1. A statement of general information
  2. Financial worksheet
  3. Handwritten letter explaining their hardship
  4. 2 months pay stubs or year-to-date Profit and Loss statement if self-employed
  5. 2 months bank statements
  6. Tax returns for the last 2 years
  7. Most current statements for all retirement accounts or other assets
  8. Authorization form to allow the Realtor or negotiator to speak with the lender.

Step #3  – Selling the Property

The house is listed for sale as a short sale.  Both listing and selling agents must agree to equally split whatever commission the lender decides to pay.  Once an offer is received the Realtor should carefully examine it and make sure that it is an offer the lender is likely to accept; the price should be consistent with comps; the offer must not be contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home; and the buyer must understand that it is unlikely that the lender will pay for any termite work or other repairs.

Step #4 – Submission of the Short Sale Package

The listing Realtor or negotiator submits everything to the lender for approval of the short sale and the listing is noted in the MLS as “Contingent”.  Again, it is important to have an experienced Realtor who makes sure that the submission is not only complete, but that it is packaged neatly and easy to read and understand.

The package goes to a special department at the lender where it is reviewed.  If there is any documentation missing or unclear, they will request additional information. Unfortunately, even this initial review can sometimes take 4 weeks or longer and often paperwork disappears and duplicates must be supplied.

Once this initial review is completed and the package confirmed as complete, a negotiator representing the lender will be assigned.  It is the job of this negotiator to carefully review the file and make a recommendation as to whether it should be approved, or not.  If there are 2 lenders (as in a 1st  and 2nd  mortgage), this entire process must be completed for both lenders. 

Step #5 – Negotiation

During the review and negotiation process, the lender’s negotiator may counter specific items in the offer including the purchase price and the requested commission.  In the case of the second mortgage holder (who stands to lose the most), they may push for a bigger contribution from the 1st  lien holder as in California they can no longer request that the sellers make a financial contribution.  Again, this is where experience counts.  The seller’s Realtor or negotiator should be in communication with the lender’s negotiator several times a week, working to move the deal along and arrive at terms that are favorable to the seller and buyer.  This part of the process can drag on for weeks, or even months, although some lenders have streamlined the process.  Also, keep in mind that many of the 2nd  mortgage holders won’t even begin the review process until the 1st  lien holder has approved the sale.

Step #6 – Approval

If the lender’s negotiator recommends approval, the file goes to upper management or the investor for final approval.  Generally speaking, if the file makes it this far, it is usually approved.  But again, this final leg of the process may take an additional two or more weeks.

And finally, the letter everyone has been waiting for – the approval letter.  Assuming all terms are acceptable to sellers and buyers the sale will now proceed as a “normal” sale.  The approval letter will stipulate a date by which the sale must close or the approval is no longer valid, usually 30 days.  Hopefully the buyer has hung-in during the approval process, and at this point the clock starts ticking for buyer inspections and contingency removals.

Navigating a short sale as either a buyer or seller can be overwhelming, and some of the items noted above may vary depending on the state you live in.  In any case, making sure you’re working with an experienced short sale Realtor is the best way to protect your interests. 

 

As you might remember, shortly after I received this short sale listing the homeowner received a notice that the 2nd  mortgage had been sold to a new investor, and the servicing was also transferred away from Bank of America. There is absolutely no equity in the home to provide collateral backing for the 2nd  TD, so it seems odd that any investor would want to buy it.

Weeks later, the transferred loan is finally in the system at the new servicing company and I was able to speak to a representative.  She informed me that we would need to submit a complete short sale package directly to them for review and approval.  Now this is very different from what  B of A told me…..they said that they would negotiate the approval with the new servicer.  Hmmm.  So, do I believe Bank of America and assume that they will take care of getting the approval for the 2nd, or do I negotiate directly with the new servicer?

Well, I think we all know what assume stands for, so there is no way I’m going to trust that  B of A will get anything done for us with the 2nd  mortgage!  I’m having my seller pull together all of their financials and required documentation for submission and I’ll negotiate directly with the 2nd lien holder.

Meanwhile, we have yet to receive an offer, so at my request Bank of America has approved a second price reduction.  I’ve been doing some heavy Internet marketing, so hopefully the lower price will help get the right buyers in the door, soon.  Will keep you posted!

Of all the articles I’ve written, posts about Bank of America and their Cooperative Short Sale Program seem to draw the most attention.  Is that because people have been disappointed in the results?  Or are they nervous about potential problems?  Well, I thought it would be interesting to share the progress of a new B of A Cooperative Short Sale that I’ve just listed to see just how good, (or bad) the process really is now that the program has been around for a while.

This sale is a bit different than most short sales I’ve done, as the owner had already begun the Cooperative program when I was hired.  Thus a lot of the initial paper work was already in the system, and the bank had ordered an appraisal.  The turn-around time on the appraisal was fairly quick, and I was pleased to see that the suggested list price approved by the bank was reasonable according to all of my research, so at least we are not dealing with an unrealistic starting price.

We did lose a couple of days as I tried to connect with the B of A representative, who will be my primary contact, but we finally spoke and she seems pleasant and knowledgeable.

So just when I thought this might be smooth sailing, the homeowner received a notice that the 2nd mortgage had been sold to a new investor, and the servicing also transferred away from Bank of America.   So how do you sell a 2nd mortgage that is upside down?  There is absolutely no equity in the home to provide collateral backing for the 2nd TD, so it seems odd that it was sold at this stage of the game.

This of course throws a bit of a wrench into the works as I will now have to negotiate a totally separate approval with the new note holder, through the new servicing company…..once they even figure out that they have the account.  Sigh.  We will have to see how this affects the B of A approval process…really not sure what to expect at this point, but I’ll keep you posted.

If you’re a California homeowner contemplating or in the process a short sale, here is some great news!  On Friday July 15, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 458 which prohibits a deficiency after a short sale for any 1-4 unit residential properties, regardless of whether or not the lender is the senior or junior lien holder.  This means that neither the 1st or 2nd mortgage holder can demand that the homeowner pay for any deficiency, nor can they file a deficiency judgment.  The law became effective on the 15th and applies to all escrows closing from that day forward. 

This is a huge relief for homeowners facing a short sale.  Up to this point, it was often the practice for a lien holder to file a deficiency judgment or request payment of thousands of dollars, prior to allowing the short sale escrow to close.  This was particularly true for 2nd lien holders who seldom recoup any money from the actual sales proceeds.

The new law however, does not prohibit lenders from negotiating for payment towards the deficiency from other interested parties such as relatives, buyers, and agents.  It also allows a homeowner to voluntarily make a contribution in the hopes of gaining a short sale approval.

As 2nd lien holders will no longer be allowed to demand compensation from the homeowner, my bet is that we will see an increase in the number of requests for payment by 3rd parties…especially the buyer and the agents.  So while this law is great news for homeowners in terms of avoiding recourse, it may present new challenges in negotiating approvals that are fair to all parties. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about this new law or subscribe to stay on top of the latest short sale news.

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