In the world of real estate, being an effective representative for your client means staying on top of sales numbers and making sure that you have a clear picture of the market place.  So I spent some time today researching short sale numbers in San Diego County and found two interesting statistics: 

  1. There has been little change in the number of short sales that have closed escrow this year as compared to the same period last year.

                                      Detached Homes                Attached Homes

            2011                2172                                        1508

            2010                2074                                        1578

  1. The number of short sale listings that did NOT sell in the same period is much higher than I believe most people would expect. 

                                     Detached Homes                 Attached Homes

            2011                2371                                        1462

            2010                1769                                        1227

This means that roughly half of all short sale listings this year did not become successful sales transactions.  So what happened to these homes and their owners?  We can hope that some of them received permanent loan modifications or in some manner managed to reinstate their loans and keep their homes.  But it is likely that the majority became foreclosure statistics.

And why does the short sale listing failure rate seem to have increased this year over last?  Is it just because there were more attempted?  Are the bank requirements becoming more stringent?  Are there more inexperienced agents trying to handle the negotiations?

The answer is probably, “All of the above.”  But whatever the reason, don’t let your short sale become one of the failed statistics.  Make sure that you work with an experienced short sale Realtor who will pre-qualify you and your home and knowledgably guide your negotiations to a successful conclusion.

 

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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!

No secret, actually.  The success of your short sale all comes down to your listing agent.  Really.  Negotiating a short sale is one of the most challenging jobs in real estate today. An agent representing a short sale client is responsible for helping them get out from under a huge financial burden and save their credit, and responsible to the new buyers for closing the deal in a reasonable length of time.   Without the right agent representing your interests it’s easy for the deal to fall apart and your home go to foreclosure. 

Here are some important questions to ask a perspective agent before listing your home as a short sale: 

1)      What is their short sale experience and what percentage of attempted sales have they successfully closed?  This is not the time to hire an inexperienced agent as short sales are an intricate process that requires an understanding of lender procedures and requirements.

2)      Do they do their own negotiation, or do they work with a professional negotiator?  An experienced, professional negotiator may be a real plus as that leaves the agent with more time to focus on marketing your home and finding a qualified buyer.  Also, a professional negotiator will have established relationships with a greater number of lenders which can often help expedite approvals.

3)      Will the agent pre-qualify you for the short sale?  Although the lender will have the final word, an agent should be familiar with all required documentation and be able to pre-qualify you for a short sale.  If economic hardship cannot be proven it is unlikely that the bank will approve a short sale.  They should also be able to let you know if you might be eligible for HAFA.

4)      How will the agent determine the list price of your home?   Listing your home too low may get you a quick offer, but it’s likely the bank will counter and you may lose your buyer.  Remember, the bank needs to recoup as much of the loan amount as the market will bear.

5)      What is the process?  An agent should be able to explain the entire process and timeline and describe exactly how and when you will be updated on progress.  They should also be able to provide information about the pros and cons of moving early in the process or staying in your home until closing.

6)      How will they market your home?  Over 90% of buyers begin their home buying search online.  Make sure your agent can provide an extensive online presence for your listing.

7)      What is the outcome that you can expect?  The agent should be able to discuss the potential outcomes including 1099s and deficiency judgments. They should also make recommendations to you about seeking the advice of other professionals, such as a lawyer and accountant.

8)      And finally, can they provide you with references of past short sale clients?   Hearing from a satisfied client can go a long way to easing your concerns.

A short sale is a complicated transaction, but it needn’t be stressful.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns.  I have a 100% short sale success track record and look forward to hearing from you.

You have a buyer and their offer is submitted.  The bank has accepted the financials and reviewed the BPOs.  You’re happily waiting for a short sale approval, when out of the blue, the bank drops a bomb in your lap:  They counter with a sales price that is $25,000 more than the offer submitted.  What now?

Agents can find this very discouraging, and with lack of experience as to how to proceed, a counter can often kill the deal.  For the novice short sale agent, the first thought is often, “I’ll never be able to convince the buyer to pay that much more!”  But digging deeper into the buyer’s wallet is not the place to start.  Get ready to go to work; it’s time to prepare for negotiation. 

  • Make sure the price of the initial offer submitted is realistic.  Yes, short sales often do sell somewhat under market value, but the bank is not going to accept a ridiculously low offer.  Save everyone’s time and don’t even bother to submit a seriously low-ball offer unless you’re prepared for a counter.
  • Gather your ammunition.  Check current comps and make sure that your price point falls within range of active and sold listings.  If needed, do an additionalBPO, pointing out items that add or detract from value in all of the comps.  The comp that is most similar should also be closest in price.  Often times, bank BPOs are performed by agents who are from outside the area and might be unaware of certain neighborhood conditions that have a negative impact on value.
  • Make sure you have a list of all items that need repair on the property, or other concerns that might take away from the value.  For example, un-permitted room additions or proximity to a noisy business.
  • Speak with the buyer and the seller.  Before going any further in the negotiation it’s important that you carefully explain the situation to both the seller and the buyer.  Don’t let your seller panic.  Explain the steps you are taking to justify the original price to the bank and keep the buyer on board.  And likewise, make sure your buyer understands the price range of the comps and come to an agreement about how much more they might be willing to pay, if any.

Armed with solid comps, a list of repairs, and some wiggle room to negotiate price, your chances of getting the deal done are great!

Believe it or not, a Republican and a Democrat are working together!  The two Representatives are sponsors of a bill that would require lenders to provide a decision of approval or disapproval of a short sale within 45 days of submission of the file.  Hallelujah! 

For those of us in the short-sale trenches, the most painful part of the process is the long period we spend waiting for the bank’s decision.  We meticulously prepare the file and then fax it off into a nameless abyss where it seemingly lies hidden at the bottom of someone’s in box.  Weeks later, we are informed that half of the information we submitted is missing from the file and would we please re-send it, or what we sent is now outdated (because they took so long to review it), and would we please send new pay stubs and bank statements.  It is a vicious process that can make a normally calm Realtor want to jump through the phone and strangle someone.

So yes, a decision in 45 days would be a Godsend!  The Bill is sponsored by Reps Tom Rooney (R- Florida), and Robert Andrews (D-New Jersey), who believe that by imposing a deadline on lenders, more short sales would be successfully executed and fewer homes go to foreclosure.   Although a few banks such as Bank of America have made an effort to improve their processing systems by utilizing a technology platform such as Equator, most banks rely on outdated systems and under trained personnel, ill-equipped to handle the thousands of short sales landing on their desks.  Thus in the current market, many short sale transactions fall-apart because the buyer gets tired of waiting and simply moves on, often leaving the homeowner to face foreclosure.

The Prompt Decision for Short Sale Act of 2011 is currently waiting to be referred to a Committee.  A similar act with the same name was introduced last September, but never came up for debate before the legislative session ended…let’s hope the support of the National Association of Realtors will help prevent this bill from a similar demise.

At the end of the day however, even if we have a shortened time period for decisions, any short sale is only as strong as the negotiator acting on behalf of the homeowner.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information on how to improve your chances for a successful transaction.

Short sales can be a real pain for everyone involved…sellers, Realtors, buyers…and because so many fail, people are often left with a negative view of the short sale process.  But, do you really know the benefits that might make it worth the effort?

As I’ve mentioned before, I work with an exceptional short sale negotiation company that has a 99% success rate in getting approvals.  The president of that company recently put together a nice chart outlining the benefits of a short sale vs. a foreclosure and I’ll share the highlights.

Future Ability to Purchase a Home:    When you apply for a home loan, there is a question on the application that asks, “Have you had a property foreclosed upon or given title or deed-in-lieu thereof in the last 7 years?”  A positive response may impact your ability to qualify and will certainly influence the interest rate you are charged.  Currently, there is no question on the loan application with regard to short sales.

Impact on Credit Score:    With a foreclosure, credit scores can drop 250 – 300 points.  Conversely, with a short sale only late payments will impact the credit score.  After a short sale, the mortgage that was paid-off short will be reported as ‘paid as agreed’, ‘negotiated’, or ‘settled for less than agreed’.  This can lower your score as little as 50 points and will usually have little to no effect in twelve to eighteen months.

Impact on Credit History:   Foreclosure remains on your credit history for seven years.  Since short sales are not specifically reported their impact is only as great as the number of missed payments, as noted above.

Deficiency Judgment:  Unless you’re in a state with anti-deficiency laws, the bank can pursue a deficiency judgment.  In a successful short sale, the bank will waive the right to pursue a deficiency judgment.

Current and Future Employment and Security Clearance:   Many employers require credit checks for all employees, and certainly for anyone hoping to attain a security clearance.  While individual companies and agencies have different requirements, a foreclosure can have a negative impact on your ability to get a job, keep your job, or get certain clearances.

Of course I’m not a lawyer or accountant, and each individual’s situation is different, and not everyone will qualify for a short sale.  You should always consult the appropriate professional for advice.  But as a real estate professional, I would definitely give the short sale serious consideration before deciding to just walk away.  For a confidential consultation just give me a call at 619-846-9249.

Negotiating a short sale is one of the most challenging jobs in real estate today.  As an agent representing a short sale client you are responsible for helping them get out from under a huge financial burden and save their credit, and responsible to the new buyers for closing the deal in a reasonable length of time.  Not only is it often stressful, but it can be downright frustrating;  re-faxing documents to the bank that you’ve sent three times, waiting for responses to phone messages and emails, and trying to find someone at the bank who actually cares about getting the transaction completed.

One of the short sales that I’m currently working on is especially trying as there are two different lenders involved on a 1st and 2nd mortgage, and as in similar cases, the 2nd mortgage holder won’t really look at the file until we have approval from the 1st.  After weeks of sending documents the 1st lien holder comes back to the table with an offer of approving the short sale, if the borrowers paid them $9,000.  Impossible!  If my clients had an extra $9,000 they wouldn’t be selling their home!  We counter at $1,000.  The bank then comes back at $3,000, insisting that according to their financial statement the borrowers can afford to contribute $3,000.

Hmmm…..my clients are insisting that as much as they would like to sell their house short and avoid foreclosure, they can’t afford the $3,000, especially as they just did their 2010 taxes and learned that they owe close to $10,000!  Aha!  More ammunition to make their case!  We submit their tax return and two days later have a short sale approval from the 1st lien holder with a $1,000 contribution!  Exactly what we countered!  The approval has been submitted to the 2nd lien holder and we’re pushing for a speedy response.

The bottom line is that my clients are thrilled and half seriously asked if I could help them negotiate their tax liability!  Ha!  I think I’ll stick to short sales.  Banks are tough enough…..I can’t imagine negotiating with the IRS!