Wells Fargo Incompetence Spells F*O*R*E*C*L*O*S*U*R*E*

 

I am livid.  Seeing red, as they say.  Here’s the short version:

  • Steele Group Realty took a short sale listing  because the sellers were in a loan modification program, but the husband was still unable to get a job, so the payments were not possible.  They listed as a short sale on 5/11 with  a scheduled foreclosure sale date of 5/30.
  • All seller documentation was submitted on 5/16.
  • 5/23 an executed offer with a full price, market  value offer was submitted.
  • Offer was uploaded into the Wells Fargo system by an employee who labeled the file “Customer Correspondence”.
  • 5/25 – 5/30 I am in contact with Wells Fargo short sale and foreclosure department nearly every hour to obtain a  postponement of sale date.  I made  sure that the review of the file by the short sale set-up department was  escalated.  Once they approved that this was indeed a viable short sale offer, the foreclosure would be  postponed.
  • 5/29 a processor in the short sale set-up  department reviewed the file, and did not see a file labeled “Offer”  in their imaging system, despite the fact that I had already confirmed with supervisors that the offer and all supporting documents were there.
  • 5/29 the processor who was apparently unwilling,  to look through all of the files, no matter how they were labeled,  determined that there was no offer and therefore declined the short sale option and approved the foreclosure.
  • House went to sale this morning at10:30 a.m.

I honestly can’t get over the failure of this system.  I have been on the phone since 7:00 a.m.this morning, trying to push through another review….to no avail.

This is just wrong, on every level.  Had the file been correctly labeled originally this would be a different outcome. Had the person in the set-up department taken an extra five minutes and reviewed all files, this would be a different outcome.

Buyers and sellers are devastated.  I spent hours and hours, and everyone loses, even Wells Fargo, who will now have to pay to re-market the property.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  A clerical error by a non-decision maker has changed the lives and business outcomes of many. There is no excuse for this level of incompetence in my book.   I have never lost a short sale and this doesn’t sit well.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend a seminar sponsored by Bank of America which was designed to help agents who negotiate short sales better understand the new systems they have instituted.  And in fairness, I do believe that the banking giant is trying to streamline the chaos we’ve been dealing with for the past several years….I’m just not sure it’s really working.

I have recently been involved with three B of A short sales, two as the listing agent and negotiator, and one as the buyer’s agent.  Short sale listing #1 was a Cooperative Short Sale, similar to the HAFA program.  It was managed through Equator but took nine months to close.  It was a total nightmare. Listing #2 is a VA first mortgage that is NOT handled through Equator and requires a separate secure email system, (this one has also taken way too long).  And finally, the short sale purchase has a B of A equity line that also does not use Equator or any system, and in fact was moved to three different offices.

So what I’ve learned is that there is no ONE system that is used by B of A, and it totally depends on the loan type.  Now I’m no systems analyst, but it would just seem to make sense to me that ALL short sales should be introduced into Equator as pretty much all the same documents and forms are required.  The file could then be assigned a negotiator in a particular department depending on the loan type, but at least ALL files would be in the same system.

The one good thing that came out of the seminar was that it qualified me to receive access to their new online escalation tool.  So now when I seem to be getting nowhere, and have exhausted the phone and email protocol, I can escalate the file and receive a response to my concern within 24 hours.

If you live in San Diego County and have questions about a short sale, and want to know if it’s right for you, please don’t hesitate to give me a call for a confidential consultation.

Short sales are tricky at best, and negotiating a successful resolution can try the patience of even the most experienced agent.  With the foreclosure clock often ticking, it’s important that the listing agent keep the transaction on track. Here are a few things agents should avoid that can be real deal killers:

  1. Accepting the wrong  offer.  If you know that the property has termite issues, doesn’t have a working heater, or has other significant repair issues, look carefully at the type of financing  the buyer will use.  VA will not allow the buyer to pay for repairs and it is unlikely that the lender will  pay.  FHA also has fairly stringent rules about the condition of the property, unless it’s a rehab loan.  If there are issues with the condition,  selecting a buyer that is using conventional financing, or cash and agrees  to buy the home “As Is” will improve your odds of success.
  2. Failing to  communicate.  As we all know, short sales are anything but short in terms of the time it takes to close.  Having a buyer that stays the course and doesn’t wander off to buy a different property is critical.  The listing agent should be in touch with the buyer’s agent at least twice a week and provide  updates as soon as they are available.    I also have the buyers deposit their earnest money into escrow within 3 days of acceptance of their offer by the sellers – we don’t wait for short sale approval.  Buyers that have put their money into escrow and receive regular progress reports tend to be much more committed to completing the purchase.
  3. Assuming….anything!  Just because you faxed in your seller’s tax returns, doesn’t mean that they were received and made it  into their file.  For most banks, allow 48 hours for items faxed to the loss mitigation department to be  posted into your seller’s file, then call and confirm.  Failure to provide documents when requested can kill the deal.  Also, don’t assume that the 2nd lien holder will accept whatever  pay-off, the 1st lien holder offers.  Don’t wait for the 1st to be  approved to start negotiating the 2nd .  Better to know what they want early in the game.

The list could go on and on, as each sale has its own peculiarities that could spell trouble.  The key to short sale success is a combination of patience, education, organization, tenacity and a crazy instinct to anticipate obstacles and leap over them before the deal dies.  Good luck out there!

For a no-obligation consultation regarding a short sale inSan Diego County please give me a call at 619-846-9249.

I attended a webinar on Tuesday that was presented by the Charfen Institute, all about the changes that are occurring in short sale processing at Bank of America, effective tomorrow.  As I currently represent the sellers in two B of A short sales, and the buyers in two other B of A short sale transactions, I logged-in wanting to see if there was anything I had missed in reading the information at their short sale resource center.

The information in the webinar was well presented, including a slick commercial for the Charfen Institute CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) Designation Course.  However, I didn’t really learn anything new….

But the thing that really got me steamed was the marketing “call to action”.  If I signed-up to take the CDPE course before 5:00 p.m. Thursday, I would receive $900 in FREE Resources – a CDPE short sale success bundle.  Here is one of the items included:

“Bank of America Add-On Kit ($200 value) – Get the five newly-required documents that MUST be submitted with all short sale offers, effective April 13.”

My problem with this is that the list and actual documents available for download are offered for FREE at the Bank of America short sale site….so how is this a $200 value??? 

And the other two items valued at an additional $700 and included in the “success bundle” are all things that are available online from the various lenders, or with a phone call – all at no charge.

Now I’m all for free enterprise, understand incentives, and the take-away tactic in sales.  And I am not knocking the CDPE course, of which I’ve heard good things.  But come on!  I just don’t think it’s right to assign a dollar value to something that is not under your copyright, that is free, readily accessible, and a necessary component to our job representing clients in a short sale.  Why not just share the links?  I would have been more impressed. Is the $200 value assigned because of convenience to the agent?  In my book, if an agent is too stupid or lazy to figure out how to get lender forms, they shouldn’t be doing short sales, with or without any certification!

 

 

Last March, I participated in a Bank of America webinar where they introduced their Cooperative Short Sale Program.  I remember being cautiously optimistic because the speaker promised that the Bank would respond to offers in 10 days.  Well, it’s now been five, yes five months since I uploaded an offer for the Cooperative Short Sale purchase of one of my listings.  We are finally in escrow and set to close on April 6th, but this has been, to say the least, a rocky road and not what I would call a “cooperative” negotiation.  Here are a couple of the low points:

  • The amount that B of A was offering to the 2nd lien holder was incorrectly communicated to  me.  They offered one amount and  then later came back with a much lower figure. I had to escalate the issue  and get pretty angry to make them stick to the original amount offered.
  • Shortly after finally getting  an approval in the first week of February, our buyer lost her job and we had to substitute her husband as the buyer.  Same transaction, no changes except the loan and sale were now going to be in the husband’s name.  It took over a month to get a new approval, and that was after I again had to escalate the issue.

Here is what I see as a big problem with the whole system:  Although the Equator platform is supposed to keep all parties in communication, it really doesn’t work that way.  Bank of America farms out the work of negotiating their Cooperative Short Sales to Asset Management Outsourcing, Inc., AKA, AMORecoveries.  So during the whole “negotiation” portion of the short sale, the agent for the seller is only in communication with a case worker at this company.  If you do need to escalate a matter to B of A directly, they might not be in the communication loop as far as the file and Equator are concerned.  Additionally, I find communicating through Equator sketchy at best.  Every step of the process is a “task” that gets accepted, completed or denied, and let me tell you, a short sale is simply not that black and white.  The only way I really got anything accomplished was when I could actually speak to someone.

Once you finally get an approval, the file becomes the responsibility of a “closing specialist” back at B of A.  So the person you’ve been dealing with throughout the whole process is now out of the picture.  When we had to substitute the new buyer, the file went from our “closing specialist” at B of A, back to AMORecoveries, to a different negotiator who thought it was an entirely new file!  I thought I was going to tear my hair out!

So I’m not a fan of the Bank of America system or the Cooperative Short Sale program that was supposed to streamline the approval process.  And I know that without going up the food chain and fighting for my seller this deal wouldn’t be closing.

 

Got a tough short sale in San Diego County?  Give me a call!

 

 

If you owe more than your home is worth, and are having difficulty making your payments, you may be a good candidate for a loan modification or a short sale.  The important thing to realize is that this problem won’t go away on its own and the sooner you attempt to deal with it, the better your opportunity for a positive outcome.

However, before you pick-up the phone to call your lender, be prepared!  The person on the other end of the call is going to do a phone interview during which they will ask very detailed questions about your income and expenses.   In order to be ready you will need the following items:

  • A completed financial worksheet which outlines ALL of your income and monthly expenses. Make sure that the income you state matches the deposits to your bank accounts!
  • Last 2 months pay stubs or year-to-date profit and loss statement if self-employed.
  • 2 most recent bank statements for all accounts
  • Hardship letter
  • Last 2 years federal tax returns

This initial interview is a sort of triage, where they try to determine, what program, (if any), might work for your situation.  The more information you have available, the quicker you will be able to move to the next step.  Even if the interview doesn’t include questions related to your tax returns, these are the items they will want you to send to them so it’s best to gather everything before you get started.  When you do send or fax, make sure that your name, phone number, email and loan number are on a cover sheet with a list of the items included.  For the initial packet of information it may be best to send with a delivery confirmation so that you have proof of mailing and delivery.

Your hardship letter should clearly explain why you can no longer afford your mortgage payments.  You obviously could afford them at the time the loan was originated, what happened to change that?  Job loss?  Death of a spouse? Divorce?  This should be a heart-felt letter addressed To Whom It May Concern and be no longer than a couple of paragraphs.  Just state the facts.  It is helpful to write the letter before you call so that you have an answer ready when the interviewer asks.

On this initial interview, and all subsequent phone conversations keep a log, noting the date, time, who you spoke with and the key points of your conversation.  Always ask about the time frame for the next steps and be prepared to follow-up!  Never assume that something is happening….chances are good that your paperwork may become lost, so be ready to re-send it.  And if you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, ask to speak to a supervisor.  But remember that the folks working in the loan workout department are probably over-worked, and a nice comment and a polite “thank you” will make the process less stressful for everyone involved. 

Best of luck! Don’t hesitate to call or email with any questions. I also have a great Excel Financial Worksheet that I’m happy to share.  Just send me a request to marti@kilby.com.

 

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


 

San Diego real estate broker Marti Kilby explains the short sale process and what you can expect.  This is part I of a 2 part series.


 

 

A short sale is an attractive alternative to foreclosure, mainly because the impact on your credit is far less severe.  However, just because you owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth doesn’t necessarily mean that a short sale is a viable option.

 

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?