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Posts Tagged ‘dutchess county short sales’

Earlier this month we closed on a short sale that was another marathon. I listed it in April of 2009 and got an offer that August. It went under contract in early September and everything looked like a relatively smooth deal until about a month into the contract period we still did not have a negotiator assigned to our case. I always warn short sale clients that we might be in for a wait, so we were all on the same page.

My client was a very nice man- a widower, originally from the Bronx, and had the house decorated “bachelor style” in his own words, and I knew what he meant. His other half had departed this earth, and he couldn’t handle the house alone.

By the time the autumn rolled around, we finally started to get some communication from the lender. They moved slow as molasses, and the buyers were getting understandably restless. These were cash buyers; we wanted to keep them and avoid the uncertainty of waiting out a loan approval once we had the short sale finalized. However, as autumn gave way to the holidays and Winter, it was clear that the bank did not share our zeal to put this transaction to bed.

A title issue was discovered in March when we thought that this was going forward, and at that point the buyers asked for their money back. Deadlines had long since passed, and we had no contractual enforcement to keep them in the transaction. It took until May to clear up the title issue, thanks in so small part to my clients’ hard work to produce needed documentation (clearly, his late wife was the organized one in that partnership, by his own admission).

I had remained in touch with the buyer agent and our attorney kept the lines of communication open with the buyer’s attorney. When we informed them that the issues were cleared and the bank was ready to close, they elected to return to the table. On July 12, 13 months after I listed the home, we closed. We successfully held off foreclosure action from the bank for over a year, the seller had a fresh start with no liability or debt after the closing, and he left the house with dignity. He deserved it- he was a good guy and a team player, and if he was stressed, he dealt with it very well.

Short sales are seldom this long a process, but even if they aren’t, a good short sale broker will help stop foreclosure action on the client’s house and keep negotiating with the lender until we get to “yes.” Moreover, it took some real teamwork to clear the title issues and get our client to the table. To his credit, he was very cooperative, and that is all you can ask for from a client selling his home in a short sale. Except maybe tidy up a little!

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This short sale closed at the end of this past year. The clients were divorced, and the home they had built while married was incomplete and upside down. The house was listed this past summer.

Divorce cases are in and of themselves difficult. I have to give both clients credit in their dealings with me- they kept it to the transaction. It still was more difficult than with a happily married client, and there were the dicey moments one might expect, but in context we did well in spite of the circumstances.

There were numerous offers on the property, but getting consensus on which one to submit to the lender complicated matters. No offer separated from the pack- price was an issue with one (rather crucial in a short sale), another was an acquaintance of the husband, which the ex wife was reticent to accept, and we were unsure of how to go forward for a time.

Not long after, what appeared to be a tie-breaking offer came in. Price, terms and details did give it a distinct advantage, that is, until the incomplete state of the home came into play. Without a final certificate of occupancy, they reduced the offer by $20,000. A decision had to be made, and with time running short the acquaintances were chosen.

It took another 90 days to get approved. Unfortunately, the buyers then asked for an extension! Given the rigid guideline of the approval we could only grant one brief extension. When another was requested, we had to deny it. We began to get concerned that the buyers might no longer qualify, but the file was cleared to close the day after their extension was denied. They might have been jockeying for a better loan; it might have been a stroke of luck. Because the closing was scheduled in haste for a morning I was already booked, I was unable to be present for the closing.

I later found out that the buyer voiced a complaint about me at the closing. I have never dealt with this person (just his agent), nor was I the source of any of the difficulty on our side. The combination of a short sale and divorce would make any transaction difficult, and perhaps the buyer transferred his frustration to me. I have no way of knowing. I do know that the seller’s attorney advised him that he was mistaken and that I was a good guy. You know you are living right when an attorney sticks out their neck for you and you don’t get a bill!

J. Philip Faranda is Westchester & the Hudson Valleys’s Premier Short Sale REALTOR. Find out more at www.NYShortSaleTeam.com

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A recent posting from an Ohio broker highlights how real estate differs from place to place. In it, she says that she advises her clients to not sign a contract with a buyer if the house is a short sale prior to getting the bank’s approval. While I won’t quarrel with what works for someone else in another market, I disagree.

That may work in Ohio, but it is ill-advised in New York. I do most of my short sales in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Orange and Fairfield (CT) Counties. It is the same in each place- when the buyer makes an offer, it is submitted to the lender with the seller’s hardship package and a contract that is conditioned on the approval of the short sale. The contract is prepared by the seller’s attorney. If the short sale is approved, we have a deal. If it is not approved, my seller is not obligated to sell and incurs no financial obligation to the buyer. Most of the time we continue to negotiate with the lender anyway, but the contract protects both parties.

For the buyer, the contract ensures that they will not lose the house to another buyer after enduring the long process of short sale approval.

For the seller, whom I represent far more often, the contract ensures that the buyer will not simply walk away without penalty or recourse after that same lengthy process. If I list a short sale, my job is to protect my seller. Handshake deals do not protect the seller, only contracts and deposits protect them. This does not “imprison” the buyer. It is virtually the same sort of contingency as their own financing, which is in almost every real estate contract, and no seller objects to such contingencies.

Moreover, the lenders require a valid contract of sale before they approve a short sale. With no contract, the offer is hypothetical. Hypotheticals don’t help my clients whose goal is to avoid foreclosure.

J. Philip Faranda is Westchester’s Premier Short Sale REALTOR. Find out more at www.NYShortSaleTeam.com

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