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Posts Tagged ‘New York short sale Realtor’

When I closed my first short sale in 1998 I had no idea that 10 years later I’d be doing them with any regularity. At that time, short sales were uncommon; they remained uncommon through 2006. Even in 2007, other agents needed to be educated about what a short sale was, how long it took to close, and what process the negotiation would entail.

Having closed dozens of short sales in the period since 2007 in Westchester and the surrounding counties, I now see a larger number of agents who are familiar with short sales. I also see a higher number of agents who bills themselves as “short sale specialists.” In some cases, they have earned a designation. I applaud any agent who furthers their knowledge. However, designations can be misleading and may not help the client.

There is only one problem with an agent who calls them self a specialist these days, and that is this: they may not really be specialists. Designations mean nothing if you cannot successfully negotiate and close a workout. In Westchester, there are enormous numbers involved, and if a home seller cannot close on their short sale because their agent, well, stunk, they could be stuck with a lingering debt, or, worse, a deficiency judgment for tens of thousands of dollars. What’s worse, if these sellers really knew how many short sales their “specialist” agent actually closed (often, between zero and one) they would be mortified.

The code of ethics strictly prohibits misleading clients as to the agent’s scope of expertise. A special designation might circumvent an outright violation. But it doesn’t protect a Westchester homeowner from huge problems if their agent can’t get the job done. In many cases, the homeowner never asked the agent how many short sales they have actually closed. This is madness. I would never have eye surgery with a rookie doctor. Our obstetricians had decades of experience. The same goes for the guy that installed our pool table, water heater, and appliances. The reasons are obvious.

Yet people still do not ask their prospective agents how many short sales they have closed. You simply cannot be a specialist with no experience; I’m sorry. I don’t care if you have a PhD or a photo shaking the Pope’s hand. What they taught you in class simply isn’t all it takes to handle the loss mitigation department of a lender. Sellers need to understand that if they hire an inexperienced agent to do their short sale, they do so at their own peril. I’d never want a surgeon cutting their teeth on my gall bladder, a lawyer apprenticing at the expense of my freedom, or an agent getting their feet wet at the expense of my finances.

Simply ask : “How many short sales have you successfully closed?” prior to listing your home. That will guide you far better than a patch on their arm. And if you are an agent who wants to get into short sales, work for someone who does them with regularity. I have often said that any agent can make money in short sales. However, 99% of them should be via a referral to a true specialist.

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The NY Times is reporting on a new Obama initiative to create a financial incentive for banks and home sellers alike to do short sales. A few highlights from the article:

  • Program starts April 5, 2010
  • Lenders will be “compelled” to accept short sales. We’ll see about that.
  • The administration wants to streamline the process. We’ll see about that too.
  • Financial incentives are $1,500 to the home seller, $1,000 to the lender, and $1,000 to a subordinate lender.
  • Agents will be used to valuate the properties, but lenders will not be forced to accept offers beneath the agent valuation.
  • Continued at Westchester Real Estate Blog.

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    CNBC is reporting that some banks are being accused of, of all things, bank fraud in short sales. Those of us who sell short sales know that the hardest cases are often the ones with subordinate financing, or in layman’s terms, a second mortgage. If you owe $500,000 on a house with a $425,000 1st loan and a $75,000 second mortgage, then a short sale for $400,000 cleans the 2nd loan out completely. If they are lucky, they will get $3000 from the first lender. They have little choice- if the house goes to foreclosure, they get nothing.

    ON some files, the 2nd mortgage will try and negotiate an unsecured amount to be paid back by the borrower after the closing in exchange for release of the lien. That is their prerogative. It is, after all, money they are owed.

    The fraud part comes when the 2nd lien wants cash paid to them that is not disclosed to the first mortgage holder. In other words, a “side deal” cash payment delivered at closing that is undocumented and not disclosed on the HUD-1 settlement statement.

    So instead of Tony Soprano conspiring to defraud the first bank, it is the second bank. Has it happened? I’d say yes. Is it widespread? Hard to tell, probably not, but once is too many times. Does this surprise me? No. These are the institutions that screwed everything up to begin with. Nothing they do surprises me.

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    There is some debate. I don’t think they will, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they probably fear that if they make them easier, more people will try for one. Since the other side of the deterrent is foreclosure, and since loan modifications aren’t exactly saving the economy, status quo has at least enabled them to repay their TARP money, so why should they change now?

    Bottom line: If you need to do a short sale, you still need an expert with experience, and not some guy who attended a seminar once.

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    Russell Shaw passes on a powerful email being sent to agents on how to deal with Bank of America’s difficulty with short sales- don’t send them any new mortgage business.

    More thoughts here.

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    An old wrestling teammate from high school referred me to his younger brother, who is also newly married and looking for his first home (Thank you Facebook!). Michael and Stephanie had been out looking for a while, and a prior agent had written an offer for them which didn’t work out. They didn’t have a good experience with this agent. It mattered to them that I was not a random agent, but a referral from a trusted relative.

    They are a very earnest couple, and once we found the right place, it turned out to be a short sale. Now, when I represent the buyer I can’t negotiate the short sale. The listing agent did it herself, the seller’s attorney was no help (useless, actually. wouldn’t answer our lawyers calls for days, if that), and it took over 4 months. There were two mortgages, which complicated matters terribly, and the 2nd released the lien but the sellers had to repay some of the loan. This happens sometimes.

    Luckily, when the approval came through they had their act together, and were able to close a day ahead of the lender’s deadline. The closing itself was not without drama, as the seller’s attorney was never on point and our lawyer had to do some fast work that morning to make everything come together. The closing lasted 3 1/2 hours. But close it did.

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    I recall listing my first short sale since the 90’s in 2006. The reaction from both the public and most agents to the term “short sale” was typically one of curiosity and confusion. What is a short sale? How does it work? How long will it take? Is it for real?

    Now short sales are so common as to become as normal to real estate vernacular as “appraisal” or “kitchen.” Everyone seems to hear the term, and the explanation now takes 30 seconds instead of 15 minutes. I am currently representing buyers on 1 short sale purchase, have other buyers with a bid on one, and I am brokering almost a dozen on the selling end, which is actually a low number for me. The most expensive is over $700,000; the lowest price is a little over $150,000. Most range between $200,000 and $400,000.

    The one thing they all do have in common is financial hardship and an upside down mortgage. Values are falling below mortgage balances and jobs are being lost in this economy. Values will continue to fall as short sales and bank-owned REO foreclosures dominate the sales statistics. If you have a $500,000 house, how can you compete with a $350,000 REO foreclosure down the street? It will be a happy day for this country when short sales become far less common.

    For now, however, short sales are as common in New York Real Estate as they have ever been.

    J. Philip Faranda is Westchester & the Hudson Valleys’s Premier Short Sale REALTOR. He has listed and sold successful short sales in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, and Orange County, as well as the boroughs of New York City. Find out more at www.NYShortSaleTeam.com

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