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!