As you can see from the graph, short sales have been on the uptick over the past two year period as lenders have geared up to handle more short sales. It is proven that banks lose less on short sales as the property tends to stay in better condition throughout the process, and the banks spends much less on attorney’s fees and vacancy on short sales than foreclosures.
As you may recall, the government came out with programs like HAMP and HAFA as well as others, but none have been largely effective at curtailing foreclosures. You might ask yourself when has the government ever setup a big program that worked as the politicians said it would.
These programs were also mostly voluntary. Some of the banks have realized that selling a home as a short sale is in their best interests, and some must have decided it’s not. We wonder if perhaps banks don’t want to show losses on their balance sheet today, so they’d rather wait and take a bigger loss tomorrow on a foreclosure because the income statement can better handle it in the future. Perhaps the answer to that theory is best answered on a case by case basis.
Some banks have invested significant resources to address short sales. Bank of America for example has trained certain agents and put their entire short sales system online similar to how we work their foreclosure system. The beauty of an online system is that everyone involved can look at the file and upload their piece of information so the bank can make quicker decisions. We’re finding this system works miracles over previous antiquated fax and wait systems, only to find out the bank lost the fax.
Now there is accountability and tracking. Chase is another example of a large bank we’ve had good success with lately. Besides Bank of America, Wells Fargo, ASC, BSI Financial Services, and Nationstar Mortgage have also gone to the online system known as Equator for their processing of short sales. We expect to see significant improvements in the communication, processing, and closing times of the banks that have gone to online processing.
Banks such as Ocwen, SunTrust, and many others have been particularly difficult to deal with and take their time, even when they know the buyer has waited too long and is about to walk from the deal. There just doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency or accountability at some of these banks and you get the feeling of indifference from them.
Nothing hurts a business more than indifference. A customer can receive bad service, but as long as they feel like somebody cares they’ll still repeat. When a customer feels like nobody cares, bad service is remembered and even talked about. Sometimes I wonder if indifference in tough times will be remembered by customers when the good times flow again and how this will affect these banks business in the future.
Each short sale is different though and even though we may be dealing with a bank, there may be an investor on the backend that just doesn’t want to accept less than the full amount owed. You would think by now most of these investors would look at the BPO (Broker Price Opinion), the appraisal, and the payment history of the borrower and realize doing the short sale may be in their best interest.
Sometimes we blame the banks, and believe me they deserve much blame, but we must remember that they also may be dealing with an investor and they’re just the middle man. It’s always easy to blame the middle man, but a little communication would go a long way in a tenuous process.
Short sales can also be complicated when there are liens on the property such as utility, or homeowners associations, property taxes, or even unpaid workers who worked on the property. Adding to the complexity is when we have to deal with multiple loans or home equity lines of credit, PMI companies, etc.
The short sale process isn’t easy for amateurs. While it is complex, we do salute the lenders who are taking it seriously and utilizing today’s technology to facilitate communication and expediency. It will be nice one day when we never have to do a short sale. Until then, it is the new normal so we might as well master the process, and that includes agents, lenders, appraisers, title companies, lawyers, and everyone involved in an intricate process.