With short sales accounting for over 17% of all sales in July, and thousands of homeowners upside down on their mortgages, the California Association of Realtors believes that short sales will be a part of the real estate market place for years to come.  Economic growth just isn’t happening quickly enough to keep pace with the number of homeowners who are sinking closer to foreclosure with each passing month.  For many, opting to sell their home in a short sale is the best option because of the less damaging impact on their credit.  But agreeing to list a short sale can be the start of an uphill battle for the Realtors involved. 

One of the biggest issues facing short sale transactions is the time involved for even a preliminary review of the offer and submitted documentation.  This step alone can often take one to three months before the lender even assigns a negotiator to the file.  Another annoying reality is lost or misplaced documentation.  With many lenders one feels that there must be a trash can on the other end of the fax machine as requests for the same documentation are made over and over.  All of this takes time…and the buyer is often out there still looking for something they can buy more quickly, with less hassle.

The California Association of Realtors has recently sent urgent requests to the heads of all the major lenders, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo with recommendations about how the whole process can be streamlined.  A few of the items requested include:

  • Realistic timelines
  • A thorough explanation for short sales that are denied
  • Up front disclosure about who really owns the loan and can make a decision
  • Pre-approval of the short sale and price prior to marketing the property
  • Increased pay-off to the junior lien holder

As a dues paying member of  C.A.R. and a Realtor in the short sale trenches I’d be thrilled to see even one or two of these recommendations become part of lender procedure.  In the meantime, I’ll just be the one on the phone politely nudging them along, every step of the way.

 

 

If you’ve ever wondered why we’re drowning in REO properties, it could be that banks are stupid.  No, I shouldn’t say that.  Let’s rephrase that more politely to read, “People in banks who make decisions about liquidating foreclosed properties perhaps lack any trace of common sense.”   See if you agree.

Last night I received an email from the asset manager in charge of one of my foreclosure listings.  In case you aren’t familiar with the lingo, the asset manager is often an employee of a third party company that is assigned bulk REOs by a bank.  It is his/her job to hire a Realtor to market the individual properties, act as an intermediary between the Realtor with the listing and the bank, and get the properties sold as quickly as possible for the most money. It is a stressful, high-pressure job.

I like the asset manager on this deal, and so far we’ve worked well together.  I’ve been waiting though for her to open escrow on a sale they approved early last week….an all cash offer of over $300K on a home that needs more than $50K in repairs.  The buyer is ready to close, and I can’t understand the hold-up.  So my asset manager sends me the following email, “We have an issue on this one. The offer is $80 under what I can accept. And no I am not kidding. Is the buyer willing to come up $80?”

$80 dollars????  Are you kidding me?  On a $300K all cash deal?  Geez! I’ll write the check myself!  Let’s just get it done!  So this is what we’re dealing with….a system that is so screwed-up that the person in charge of unloading foreclosed homes doesn’t have the authority to waive $80 bucks!  Sigh.  It’s going to be a long road back to a ‘normal’ real estate market…..

If you think it’s OK to ignore the ketchup that dropped on the carpet, and that black fur growing in the bath tub is normal, do me a favor:   Don’t list your home for sale.  As a Realtor, I’ve seen more than my share of filthy, smelly houses, but yesterday’s showing put a surprising twist on what people consider acceptable. 

Entering the front door of the home I noted several rows of shoes in the foyer.  Normally, this is a sign that the occupants care about keeping their floors clean and don’t want to track dirt from the outside world into their home.  However, as I gingerly stepped onto the carpet, not only did I keep my shoes on, but I was wishing I had worn waders to protect me from whatever life forms were living in the carpet!  What were these homeowners thinking?  The carpet was stained to the point that it was difficult to determine the color and piles of dog and cat hair billowed around my feet at every step.  And they remove their shoes?  Really?

Most sellers of course don’t live in a pig pen, and if your standards of cleanliness are a bit relaxed, that’s your business.  However, most of us become so comfortable in our own environments that we may not be able to see things that will distract a buyer.  When it comes time to sell your home, listen to your Realtor!  Most buyers lack imagination and will not be able to see past dirt or clutter.  Hand prints on the walls and less than clean appliances are seen by the buyer as work they don’t want to do. 

Ready to sell your home?  Ask your Realtor for a candid evaluation of items that need to be cleaned and/or repaired before you worry about the list price.

The sarcastic answer in today’s market might be, “Not much.”  My husband thinks that some sort of insanity has a grip on his otherwise logical wife.  He just shakes his head as I watch one more episode of House Hunters or Property Virgins and asks, “Don’t you get sick of looking at houses?”

And I guess for me, that’s where the answer lies:  I love houses!  Big houses, little houses, modern, traditional, tree houses…..I am completely intrigued by the shelters we each call home.  From the time I was a little girl, I enjoyed drawing pictures of different types of houses and designing floor plans.  And today, every time I unlock a door to show a home I’m still excited to see what we’ll find inside.  Okay, sometimes its cockroaches and filthy walls, but looking past the mistreatment, the bones of the home have something to say.

Houses solve the most basic problems of existence.  Our homes provide shelter, protection, and a place to prepare and eat food.  And if that is where their function and purpose ended, being a Realtor would be pretty dull.  But houses speak volumes not only about who we are individually, but who we are as a country and civilization.  Houses reflect how we as people, wherever we live, respond to the challenges of our physical and economic environment.

Since WWII the U.S. has witnessed a huge housing boom where we’ve seen our houses change along with our economy and lifestyle.   The small bedrooms, closets and bathrooms of the 1950s have given way to master suites that often occupy as much as a third of the total square footage.  Kitchens are no longer cloistered behind a swinging door, but are open to the living area. And who would have thought that you’d ever hang a TV above the fireplace?

As we all continue to feel the economic squeeze of recent years, we see new trends developing in our homes as well.  The mega mansions so popular at the early part of this century are just too expensive to maintain, and we see many people downsizing to more manageable homes.  Little used rooms, such as a formal living room are becoming obsolete as the great room becomes the center of the home.  And as interior space shrinks we develop our exterior spaces as outdoor rooms.  Less is the new more, and I predict that the need to reduce our footprint will drive significant changes in our homes over the next twenty years.

So do I love being a Realtor?  Absolutely!  Can’t wait to see what I’ll discover tomorrow behind the next front door.