Banks Revving Up For More Short Sales
Because Bank of America is the largest servicer of residential loans in the United States, it seems quite reasonable they would have the largest number of foreclosures and for a few years that was true. A few years ago Bank of America announced it was stepping up its efforts to assist homeowners with short sales in hopes of decreasing the amount of foreclosures. It takes time to ramp up, hire, and train enough people to lighten that load, and it used to be said that Bank of America was the worst at processing short sales. That can’t be said any longer as they actually closed more short sales in 2010 than foreclosure sales, and since they automated and moved their short sale process to Equator, an online sales management software tool, the process has become streamlined and much quicker.
No, we didn’t say Ecuador, a country in South America. We said Equator, an online tool qualified agents can become certified in to assist homeowners complete sales transactions. Not every agent will handle a short sale, nor should they. A short sale is a very complex transaction where the bank, or banks, asks for specific documents to help them make a decision on whether to accept less than the full mortgage payoff.
This is a very complicated process because there are tax implications for some homeowners and investors, and the banks may sometimes ask for deficiency judgments in others. It gets really complicated when 3rd party liens are placed on the property, like HOA liens or judgments against the creditor. These must all be identified and negotiated as part of the process.
Listing agents are reticent to list these properties as they are more time intensive, and there is no guarantee the bank will agree to a short sale. Further complicating the process, the bank surely won’t agree unless every I is dotted and T crossed to satisfy their guidelines. This generally requires a hardship letter explaining why a short sale should be considered, a letter of authorization authorizing the agent to deal with all the various debtors and lien holders, bank statements, etc. Short sales also take time, as you may be dealing with a primary lender, the investor behind that loan, FNMA, a PMI company, and perhaps a 2nd loan and investor or a home equity line of credit.
Buyer agents are also reticent to show short sales as they’ve discovered some sellers are not a candidate to sell short, or the listing agent isn’t qualified to take the sale to closing. The short sale isn’t a sale to practice on, it must be done by skilled, tireless agents with experience and extensive training with the banks. If you’re a short sale seller, be sure to interview your agent and make sure they are a CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) or similar designation and have lots of experience working with different banks. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Nationstar, BSI Financial Services, ASC, and others use Equator and expect the agent to be qualified on that system. Others, like Aurora, SunTrust, Ocwen, etc. use their own proprietary system to consider a short sale and the agent must know how to reach each and identify what each lender requires. Ideally this information should be obtained at the time of listing, not when a contract is accepted as this will further delay the process. Learning on the job isn’t a great option for buyer or seller, so working with a listing agent who has experience closing these sales helps all.
Banks today are even reaching out to agents asking to help with our short sales. Two of the largest banks are sending their customers letters on how they may be able to short sale rather than lose their property to foreclosure and they’re even recommending qualified agents to assist. A short sale is not something a For Sale By Owner can do, nor is the bank looking for that.
As you can see by the graph, approximately 31% of all single family home listings today in Lee County are listed as short sale. Listing inventory is going down, and so is short sale inventory because successful short sale closings are going up.
If you’re on the brink of affording your home or property, talk to a short sale expert. It’s amazing that of the foreclosures, 71% of the homeowners never reached out to anyone for help. Help is available, and a short sale is much better on your credit. With banks today getting better at the short sale process, it pays to ask for help. Call your agent today and ask if they can help. If not, don’t hesitate to call us and we’ll see if we can get you help now so it’s not a crisis tomorrow.
The Ellis Team currently has 3 CDPE’s on staff. A CDPE is a Certified Distressed Property Expert, which requires intensive training and extensive short sale experience to attain. To help gear up for the increased short sale demand, the Ellis Team at RE/MAX recently hired Marisa Morgan who worked many years as a long time banker with Bank of America and also in the title business. For years Realtor clients came to her asking advice on how to properly package short sales so the bank would accept them. She sat down and met with several sellers so they understood the process, so it makes sense to add Marisa’s experience to SW Florida’s premiere team to help sellers sell their short sale properties.
Brett discusses short sale issues with Marisa on this week’s Future of Real Estate show entitled “Banks Gearing Up for More Short Sales in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, SW Florida” Video.