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Posts Tagged ‘Westchester short sales’

New HAFA rules are forcing home sellers to negotiate directly with subordinate liens, or, in common terms, second mortgages, on their own, according to Bankrate.com. The way the rules are written, there is a financial incentive for the 2nd mortgage  to settle and release the lien, but the onus of getting assurances that the bank will settle rests on the borrower, which seems incongruous with the intent of the law. If the law is that the bank gets $3,000 from the government to settle, then it is the government who should be getting written assurances that they will indeed settle, not the borrower. The article points out that distressed sellers are already bleaguered and beaten up and in no condition to play hardball with another bank.

I agree. Distressed home sellers ought not do this on their own. They need an advocate, and a 3rd party with experience is very likely going to get a better result than a beaten up home owner. This is what we do, but rather than make this post a commercial I’ll also add that here in New York, the attorney should be on the front lines dealing with the 2nd mortgage as well as the first. The attorneys that we have on our team are excellent; the sellers can rest assured that the arrangements they help negotiate are the very best that can be agreed to. They also read the “fine print” with a fine tooth comb. The devil is in the details in these things, especially in New York.

All short sale agreements from lenders should be in writing, and all short sale agreements from lender should specify that they will not go after the borrower for the difference after closing. Anyone can get a short sale with no assurances of financial security after the closing. It takes a professional to ensure that the seller’s obligations in a short sale end at closing with no residual debt. That is our job, and that is how we do our short sales.

Doing a short sale on your own invites peril. We have done dozens, and that puts you in good hands compared to the guy in the mirror.

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Amy Hoak’s timely article on HAFA and short sales in yesterday’s Journal concludes with timely advice that I wrote myself the very same day. The article focuses on the many pitfalls of short sales, as well as the new HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) regulations which are set to go into effect on April 5, 2010.

Here is what I wrote yesterday:

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.

Sellers at the conclusion of the Journal article are advised much the same thing: to ask their prospective agent how many short sales they have successfully completed, and how many were lost to foreclosure.

Obviously, the word is getting out. Experience trumps marketing when your financial life is at stake.

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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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    The government has moved to increase the incentive for lenders to allow short sales on their defaulted loans. I welcome this, although there is nothing specified as to how they’ll hold banks accountable for streamlining the process, which is rife with red tape, bureaucracy and long waits. If they truly want to make short sales happen more frequently to help more distressed homeowners out, they would mandate a maximum of 6 weeks for a short sale approval.

    Continued  here.

    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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