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Posts Tagged ‘Westchester short sale Realtor’

Fannie Mae’s recent edict forbidding the cutting down of the broker commission as part of the short sale negotiation is very good for distressed sellers and buyers, not just the agents. I’ll explain.

Naturally, brokers and agents are relieved because it ensures that the considerable time and effort that goes into selling a short sale property will not end with their compensation being raided by the lender in what has always amounted to 11th-hour extortion. In a market like mine in Westchester County, where the typical transaction is 45-60 days, the time to sell a short sale is easily triple that time in some cases.  Sometimes the bank has accepted short sales with the caveat that the brokers get paid less, often with the rationale that something is better than nothing.

This decision is made by an out of state negotiator whose obtuse agenda is to minimnize the loss to the lender, but the consequences are far more damaging than a little pinch, because many brokers and agents are now refusing to show short sales to their buyers. While it may not amount to a blatant boycott, the agents will discourage their buyers with a variety of reasons, such as the long wait, the uncertain nature of the time invested, and the condition of the house. The real reason, however, is that they want to get paid. In this economic climate, that rationale is understandable.

I don’t agree with it, but it is understandable.

The ecology of the agent’s unwillingness to sell short sales is disastrous. Fewer showings mean fewer sales, and that hurts not only the sellers in the short term, it hurts everyone.

  • More unsold short sales mean the market will take longer to adjust.
  • Toxic assets remain on the books longer. Non-performing loans do no one any good.
  • Tax bills are not paid, hurting municipalities.
  • Buyers may be discouraged from buying what may be the perfect home for them.
  • Brokers who take longer to sell a buyer the right home may eventually lose that buyer to another broker, a for sale by owner, or inertia.
  • People who might otherwise benefot from selling their home in a short sale face foreclosure.
  • More foreclosures are the last thing this economy needs.

While Fannie Mae does not hold all loans, it holds enough to influence other entities. My local market of Westchester County has lots of Fannie Mae borrowers who are in negative equity. If brokers have confidence that they will get paid in full for selling a short sale, it will expedite the wringing out of bad loans, helping sellers and lenders alike, and speed an economic recovery.

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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Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this post is from the Westchester-Putnam Multiple Listing Service.

There are 3,454 single family homes actively for sale in Westchester County. Of those, 148 are disclosing either a short sale or foreclosure proceeding in process. This is about 4.3% of the available single family home inventory.

The actual number is probably far higher than that. That is because on many homes the listing agent has not disclosed, either knowingly or unknowingly, that the house is upside down or delinquent. Also, there are hundreds of overpriced listings which would be short sales if the price were lowered to market value. In other words, there are lots of $450,000 homes listed for $550,000 because the mortgage balance is $500,000.  Continue reading here

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

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Zillow has published a graph on how many homeowners have “negative equity,” or owe more than their home’s value. Not all these home owners are in touble; but the numbers are instructive.

Zillow Negative Equity Graph

Zillow Negative Equity Graph

As you can see, the downpayment rquirements after 2007 became far more stringent, no doubt due to the sub prime crisis. Negative equity started to rise in 2004 before the market peaked; that really tells us how much the bubble was inflated by bad loans.

Many of these people, should they need to sell, will either have to come up with money to close or face a short sale. This chart is for the New York metro area. If you’d like to see your marketplace, click here.

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

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BPO stands for “broker price opinion.” It is a part of the short sale process that the lender uses to evaluate the merit of a short sale application. Simply put, the lender uses a BPO to ensure that the proposed sales price is aligned with market conditions. Some Westchester County Short sales, for example, are 20% less than the house’s value from 3 or 4 years ago. A home that was purchased in 2005 for $500,000 may only be worth $400,000 currently. Just to be certain, the lender sends out a 3rd party to verify this.

The BPO report looks very similar to an appraisal. There is a description of the subject property, and usually at least 4 recent comparable sales. If the offer on your home is $380,000 and the comparable sales are $410,000, $395,000, 375,000 and $355,000, then the lender will know that the value is legitimate. If all the comparable sales are over $425,000 and there is no compensating factor, such as deferred maintenance or needed repairs, the bank may deny the application. As much as the BPO report resembles an appraisal, it is not an appraisal, which is more expensive and produced by a licensed appraiser.

Often the lender will forego a BPO and do a full-blown appraisal. The theory here is that the appraiser will be more accurate. This is a sound theory, but one pitfall I have personally experienced is that lenders have a bizarre habit of contracting appraisers from a different marketplace who turn in robotic, formulaic reports based solely on price per square foot and not local market conditions. We have had short sales denied because the home has over appraised, causing more work and, in one case, a foreclosure. After it was repossessed, the home ended up selling for $100,000 less than what the lender claimed to be market value. That lender is no longer in business.

As prices continue to shrink, overpriced BPOs and appraisals are becoming less common. The BPO usually comes after the rest of the process is complete, so in those cases a decision from the lender on the short sale ought not be far off. Some lenders do them earlier, but as the marker changes I see that less and less.

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

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Buying any foreclosure is tricky, and a short sale is probably the longest process. Is purchasing a short sale right for you? Perhaps you rent in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam or Dutchess and are considering a short sale purchase in one of those areas. Here are some things you ought to know:

  • You can’t be in a hurry. Negotiating a short sale might only take a month but in most cases it can go 90 days or longer. So don’t hire a mover, end your lease or lock your rate until you have confirmation that your offer is approved by the bank. If the seller accepts your offer that isn’t an approved short sale; any offer the seller accepts still requires approval from their lender.
  • You are buying the house “as is.” In rare cases, such as in an environmental problem, the lender will pay for repairs but most if the time you are getting the house as is, as found. The seller is in hardship, so they won’t be able to help either. So make sure you do your inspections and know what you are getting into before going forward.
  • You can’t “flip” the house. Short sales are very good deals in most cases but not so very low that you’ll be able to turn a short term profit. They usually are retail value, less repairs and maintenance, and perhaps less a bit for speed.
  • Status updates take longer. Unlike regular transactions where updates are a phone call away, all parties are forced to wait on the lender, who is not, shall we say, committed to keeping everyone happy. This doesn’t mean that the purchase is lost in the ether; but it does mean that more patience is required than normal.
  • If the listing agent is not a short sale specialist, it may turn into a nightmare. You wouldn’t want a podiatrist giving you root canal, nor do you need a rookie cutting his or her teeth on the biggest purchase of your life. Short sales are hard for experienced experts like myself; an agent who is doing their first or 2nd short sale is in for a long ordeal. The best way to handle that transaction is to not enter into it. If the house looks right for you and a short sale is disclosed, ask how many short sales the listing agent has successfully closed. If the agent hasn’t done many, the best thing to do might be to pass the house by. Otherwise, you might be in for 6 months of frustration.
  • Subordinate financing takes longer. If the seller has a second mortgage, then two lenders have to render their approval, and coordinating the two complicates matters. Some specialists won’t even list those homes (I do.).  Ask if there is another lender, and even if they are the same institution, it will add a measure of difficulty (the same lender but two different loans means two different divisions or departments). Do a lien search on the home before going forward. If there is a 2nd lien the listing agent hasn’t disclosed you might consider walking- they may not be in command of how to close this workout.
  • Ironically, you have to be ready to close rather quickly. This is the “hurry up and wait” irony of the short sale process. The lender will make you wait far longer than a normal purchase for a decision, but when that decision is issued there will typically be a 15 or 30-day deadline to close or the sale approval has to go back to review. By this point you should have done your inspections and other due diligence completed. Once the lender approves the sale it is then time to lock the rate, call the mover and give notice on your apartment.

This is a broad overview, but it boils down to knowing when to hold and when to fold.  No two short sale transactions are the same, even with the same lender. If you are in a state where attorneys are used it helps to have an attorney represent you in the purchase with short sale experience, but at the very least make sure they are experienced at real estate.

The long process aside, buying a short sale does put you ahead of the market, as the prices are more aligned with where the market is heading. This is significant, because the places where the bulk of my short sales are done (Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess counties), prices are so high that even a 5% reduction can mean tens of thousands of dollars to you.

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

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The question that pops up for people who can no longer pay their mortgage is how much money they’ll have to come up with in order to get out from under their mortgage through a short sale. It is like the old catch-22 I’ve often heard where the client tells me that they want to seek bankruptcy protection but they don’t have the money to pay the attorney (of course, the answer to that is that the good attorneys I know will not charge for a preliminary consultation).  It is an understandable conundrum, and I’ll do some math illustrations here.

First, in a typical sale, the seller has numerous expenses, but the big one are the real estate commission, New York State transfer tax ($4 per thousand), Attorney fee, and the big one-the mortgage payoff (typically the biggest check drawn at closings).

On a $500,000 house with a $400,000 mortgage balance, assuming a 6% commission (all commissions are negotiable of course) and a $1500 attorney fee, the seller is liable for the following:

  • Commission: $30,000
  • NYS Transfer tax: $2000
  • Mortgage payoff: $400,000
  • Attorney: $1500
  • Total: $433,500

If you have the equity, all expenses come from the proceeds and you don’t give it another thought. Let’s look at a short sale scenario where the balance and market value are both $450,000:

  • Commission: $27,000
  • NYS Transfer tax: $1800
  • Mortgage payoff: $450,000
  • Attorney: $1500
  • Total: $480,300 shortage of $30,300

In a short sale, the bank absorbs the loss and discharges (settles/forgives) the loan debt, with no post-closing obligation, even if there are back  taxes and back payments. The reason is hardship. Lenders recognize that sellers do not have magic wands to wave and make the market values any higher, and that in selling the house the debtor is making a good faith effort to pay their debt. If you have hardship (which is typically why the house needs to be sold to start with), you should have a successful short sale. If you have  $100,000 in the bank, you don’t qualify for a short sale. I should also add that my clients do typically pay a small attorney fee to defray the attorney expense for the workout, but in short sale situations where the lender refuses and returns mortgage payments, it becomes a relatively negligible matter.

This is the same structure in my short sales in Rockland County, the Bronx, Putnam, and Dutchess.  Some municipalities such as Yonkers have a higher transfer tax. Of course, the broker or agent you choose matters as much as the surgeon you choose for an operation. You need a specialist or the results could be fatal. The lesson here is that homeowners experiencing hardship ought not put off acting because they don’t have money. You really don’t need any to get informed, get started, and get your life moving again. And the best part is that once the short sale is completed, the slate is clean. That day is the first day of the rest of your life.

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

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Predatory lending is an insidious practice. Those that make a short term profit at the expense of another person’s financial health are criminals. Of course, they know little of the damage they cause, but those of us who try and pick up the pieces know that harm all too well.

I was called to meet with an elderly couple in White Plains, and a family friend was also present. I thought little of it in the beginning, but as I came to learn of their circumstances, I understood that the friend was there to ensure that they wouldn’t get hurt again. About a year earlier, a mortgage person convinced them to refinance their home with an option-ARM, which is a very exotic product intended as a short term loan for investors. I am sure the loan officer made a healthy commission, but these people belonged in this loan as much as Stevie Wonder belonged behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

The way it works is that the interest rate is artificially low in the beginning period, and then the difference between the note rate and the market rate is added to the loan principle each month. If the ARM  (adjustable rate mortgage) rate is 2% and the market rate is 7%, that month’s 5% annual interest is the amount that the loan amount increases. The low payment literally cannibalizes equity. Investors like them because the teaser rate is low, and by the time the adjustable rate period is at hand the home is resold. Not so for a long term owner occupant. By the time I had gotten there, they had realized that tens of thousands of their equity had disappeared. Nobody explained this to them, or, if it was covered, it was sped through so quickly they didn’t know what hit them. To make matters worse, the loan had a prepayment penalty, which is incredibly rare in the state of New York.

The clients were understandably mistrustful of anyone who promised to help them, and it was only their friend’s presence that convinced them to work with me. For the entire period of the listing (it took almost 7 months from listing to closing) we never met alone once. There was always a friend or relative present.  I didn’t blame them, and I actually preferred it that way, because every new person that met me became an ally.

It was a tough sell: we had subordinate financing, a prepayment penalty, a very outdated house, and the sale price of comps was still high at that point because the market decline was in it’s infancy. Even if we brought an offer, there might be appraisal issues. They also had a large amount of personal belongings to move, a difficult task for elderly, infirmed people.

We did get an offer, and the work began on negotiating the short payoff. One piece of good luck came through when a local non-profit that the clients contacted on their own got the pre-payment penalty disallowed (another example of people doing something to help themselves rather than curl into a fetal position). In our process we have the buyers sign a conditional contract, contingent on bank approval of the short sale. These things can go on for months, and there is always a danger of the lender giving the buyer an “out” by countering at a higher price. After weeks and months of frustration and waiting, the buyers did become nervous. I spoke with their agent quite often, and much of the discussion was reassuring them that we were confident we would get the deal done.

The approval did come through, and with a rare caveat: an unsecured note of $30,000 would have to be paid back by my clients. The lender would allow them to sell and release the lien, but the bank  wanted another $30,000. The term was advantageously long and the rate low, so the monthly payment would be a fraction of a $30,000 car for example, but it was a post closing obligation.  This is exceedingly rare; we had little choice. It was either that or foreclose. The clients accepted the lender’s terms.

They are renting now, and their expenses are far more in line with their fixed income. The stress is alleviated, and in spite of the small compromise they had to make with the lender to make the deal work, their quality of life is far better. In a perfect world, I would hunt down the loan officer that put them in that option-ARM and make him pay back the $30,000.

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

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