Bank of America made some changes to its short-sale procedures which are supposed to shorten decision times on short-sale offers to 20 days, down from 45 days or longer.
Bank of America’s short-sale management platform, Equator, was revamped and now enables short-sale negotiators to conduct tasks like document collection, valuations and underwriting simultaneously. In addition, when buyers walk/back out of their contract, agents will have 5 days instead of 14 days to submit a backup offer.
As part of the change in their short-sale approval process, Bank of America is requiring a new third-party authorization form for short sales initiated as of April 14, 2012. In addition, there are now 5 specific documents which are required to process short sales initiated with an offer. Once these five specific documents have been submitted, Bank of America should have a decision made on the short-sale in 20 days.
If you’re a homeowner thinking of doing a short-sale or a buyer considering purchasing a short-sale, I’d be happy to give you the details and chat more about the short-sale process - click here to contact me.
The number of Loudoun County short-sale and foreclosure/bank-owned properties for sale has decreased significantly over the past few years. This is an important fact because it speaks to the health of the overall real estate market in Loudoun County. As you may know, the less the number and percentage of short-sale and foreclosure/bank-owned properties for sale, the better the real estate market typically is in general.
So here are the numbers…
- The number of new short-sales listings in Loudoun County went down by 42% from 2009 to 2011
- The number of foreclosure/bank-owned properties in Loudoun County went down by 53% during the same time.
And here it is broken down by year…
- Short-sales made up 19.2% of all properties listed for sale in Loudoun County
- Foreclosure/bank-owned properties made up 9.6% of all properties listed for sale in Loudoun County
- Short-sales made up 14.6% of all properties listed for sale in Loudoun County
- Foreclosure/bank-owned properties made up 6.3% off all properties listed for sale in Loudoun County
- Short-sales made up 11.1% of all properties listed for sale in Loudoun County
- Foreclosure/bank-owned properties made up 4.5% of all properties listed for sale in Loudoun County
These are refreshing numbers to see after the chaos of a market we’ve had in the latter part of the last decade. These numbers and trends along with other local real estate market statistics and “street reports” backs-up the sentiment that the worst is behind us and that the local market has and is continuing to improve.
Short-sales are getting tougher for sellers and buyers and banks are more willing to foreclose now than before. Compared to just 6 months ago, banks are putting greater demands on short-sale sellers and buyers and are becoming less hesitant to foreclose if sellers (and buyers) don’t agree to their terms. This practice is hurting sellers experiencing true hardship and honest buyers who just want to buy a place to call home.
Banks are putting greater demands on short-sale sellers. Here are some examples…
- Bank’s guidelines for “hardship” are becoming more stringent (and unreasonable in some cases).
- Banks are demanding more money out of the sellers’ pocket at closing - money the seller does not have.
- Banks are less willing to forgive the remaining debt especially in states such as Virginia.
- If there are multiple loans and banks involved in the short-sale, the individual banks are becoming less willing to work with each other (i.e. the first trust bank is not willing to give the second trust bank any money like they used to).
- Second and third trust banks are requiring more money (they used to be happy with $3K) and are less willing to forgive the remaining debt
By putting these demands on the sellers, buyers are being forced to pick up some of the burden for the seller or walk away from the deal and start their house hunt over from scratch. And if the buyer walks away and the seller doesn’t almost immediately get another buyer that will agree to the terms, the seller runs out of time and the bank forecloses.
In addition, banks are becoming more willing to foreclose rather than work out a short-sale deal. A well informed and reliable little birdie told me that at least one big bank (first initial “B”) is moving toward a policy of foreclosing rather than accepting short-sales. Considering my latest short-sale dealings with this and other banks, I agree.
Maybe this has to do with the banks being tired of those who are “strategically defaulting”. Maybe it has to do with the banks being bailed out and knowing no matter what they do, they’re too big to fail. Maybe it has to do with them thinking the market has stabilized so they’re holding on to inventory until prices go up and the home is worth more then than it is today. Maybe it has to do with plain old greed and arrogance. Regardless of why, it is what it is.
Banks foreclosing rather than accepting short-sales is not only hurting sellers, it’s hurting buyers. Imagine being a buyer who patiently waited 3, 4 even 6 or more months for a final response from the seller’s bank only to hear, “The bank is foreclosing. Sorry it didn’t work out.” That’s time and money wasted that you can’t get back.
If you want to best position yourself for success, do your homework, be prepared and put yourself in good hands (a good lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, etc). And have a Plan B because there is no guarantee that the short-sale will be approved at the terms you (the seller) want.
This is true if you’re a buyer as well. Make sure you know what short-sales are all about and that you’re at the mercy of the seller and bank agreeing to terms. Your Buyer’s Agent should do as much prying as is legally possible to find out the seller’s short-sale situation and circumstances surrounding it. This will give you a better idea of the chances of the short-sale being approved and whether you should move forward with placing an offer on the property or move on to something else.
This short-sale market has been “interesting” to say the least. And it’s about to get even more interesting.
Congratulations! You’ve waited patiently for a response on your short-sale offer from the bank(s) and you just got word that it’s been approved - half the battle has been won!
So now what?
To best understand what happens next, let’s quickly go over a part of the short-sale process…
The majority of what needs to be done (loan processing, appraisal, title work, termite, etc) can’t be done until the bank(s) has approved the short-sale - in writing. The reason for waiting until then is that all of those things cost money and no one wants to spend the money and resources before knowing for sure that the short-sale will be approved.
And as far as timing, you typically only have 2 to 4 weeks from when the short-sale has been approved to get all these things done because that’s how long the typical short-sale approval from the bank(s) is good for. If you run past the deadline, you have to ask for an extension and/or a new approval. While this is more than possible, it’s a hurdle best avoided if possible.
Is it tough to get all those things doe and settle within that time frame?
Two weeks is cutting it close, but four weeks is not a problem with the right lender on your side.
Now back to answering the question, “So now what?”…
Here are some things you can expect as a buyer once the short-sale approval comes in:
- Schedule the settlement date and closing time based on the short-sale approval deadline(s) and when the lender can have the loan done and ready for funding
- Provide your lender with updated pay stubs, bank statements, financial statements, etc.
- The lender will now order an appraisal on your behalf
- If you haven’t already done so, you should set up a home inspection (click here for more about home inspections on “as is” properties)
- Order the termite inspection (sometimes it’s the seller’s responsibility and sometimes it’s yours)
- The settlement/title company will now order the title search, title work, survey, etc.
- If you’re renting, now is the time to put in your notice to the landlord/management company
- Obtain home owner’s insurance on the new property
- Contact the moving company if you’re using one (or call your friends/family and start bribing them with favors now)
- Put in for time off from work for the final walk-through and settlement (these can only take place during normal business hours Monday through Friday)
- About 2 weeks out, but not less than 1 week out from settlement date, transfer the utilities into your name
See..not too bad at all! Short-sales are a “stop and go” process. But, as many short-sale sellers and buyers will tell you, it’s well worth it! The seller ends up avoiding foreclosure and an even bigger ding to their credit while the buyer gets a great deal on a new home.
This time last year, foreclosure/bank-owned properties were King by making up the largest percentage of distressed properties on the market. Today, it’s the opposite.
Short-sale properties now wear the crown out-numbering foreclosure/bank-owned properties for sale almost 4 to 1 and accounting for almost 20 percent of the total homes for sale in Loudoun County.
This dramatic shift is due to the foreclosure moratoriums that were in place at the end of last year and the beginning of this year (which seem to be voluntarily continued) along with banks becoming more open to negotiating short-sales (whether on their own free will or government coercion).
What does this mean for Loudoun home buyers and sellers?
For sellers, it means that, if you’re thinking about selling your home “short”, now is the time to do it. Banks are more open to negotiating with home owners and buyers are receptive to buying a short-sale. In addition, the U.S. Government is offering to pay the second trust in a short-sale up to $1000 to get the deal done.
You should also make sure that the Listing Agent you hire has successfully completed numerous short-sale transactions within the past 6 to 12 months (anything further back than 6 to 12 months doesn’t count because the rules today are much different than they were more than 12 months ago let alone in the history of real estate).
For buyers, it means that the majority of the “great deals” are short-sales. This means that you have to shift your thinking and “life plans” from moving in 30 to 45 days to moving in 4 to 7 months from now. This is because short-sales have a much longer turn around time and a smaller chance of success (unlike ordering a Whopper from Burger King).
The typical bank-owned property takes a few days to 1 week to get a response on while a short-sale typically takes 3 to 4 months (sometimes 6+ months). And even when you do get a response, it could be a counter-offer from the bank(s) or even worse, a plain old, “No - we’re not accepting a short-sale” and you’re S.O.L.
As a buyer, you should know what you’re getting yourself into with short-sales and have a Buyer’s Agent working for you that knows the ins and outs of the short-sale transaction. This will maximize your chance for successfully purchasing a great deal and actually getting to the settlement table.
If you’re a seller thinking about doing a short-sale, but aren’t sure what a short-sale is all about or where to start, pick up the phone or email me and I’ll be glad to help answer any questions or concerns you may have.
If you’re a buyer thinking about buying a short-sale in the Loudoun/Northern Virginia area, email or call me so we can chat about your specific needs and see how I can be of help.
The Dulles Area Association of REALTORS® hosted a symposium yesterday with banks and REALTORS® to foster a greater understanding of the mortgage options for troubled homeowners and challenges arising from complicated real property transactions such as short sales. The event was held at George Washington University’s Ashburn campus and featured Congressman Frank Wolf and “top dogs” from HUD, the FHA, Bank of America and the Virginia Mortgage Lenders Association.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of the event because I was afraid politics and “prepared speeches” would get in the way of actually getting things accomplished (or at least discussed openly and honestly). There was a discussion/Q&A session at the end, but not much commenting came from the “top dogs”. And as far as the “advice” given, none of it was anything many of us didn’t already know.
It seems the people near the top of these organizations/companies are out of touch with what’s really going on in real life. Or maybe they do know, but don’t want to admit it or do anything about it.
For example, one agent commented how bank negotiators never return phone calls nor emails regarding the status of a short-sale in process. The response was, “Be patient. We get 180,000 phone calls per day and we don’t have the manpower to support the volume.”
So you want people to sit around for up to 6 months before you bother to get back to them? That’s your advice?! Gee, thanks. I feel much better now
How about this…You received TARP money (aka millions of tax payer dollars) plus you’re saving thousands of dollars by working out a short-sale rather than going the foreclosure route - so hire more (competent) people!
Another example (which I have been fortunate enough NOT to experience) is that the short-sale and foreclosure departments at the same bank don’t communicate with each other. Banks have been known to foreclose on a property in the middle of a short-sale negotiation (with the same bank). It’s 2009 - there are land lines, cell phones, email, IM, text, Twitter, Skype, etc. There is no excuse for such a lack of communication between two departments within the same company.
They defended the new HVCC appraisal guidelines quite a bit even though every agent and most sellers, buyers and those trying to refinance since May 1 have a horror story (or five) to share thanks to the HVCC.
And not too much new was talked about working out a loan modification. Things such as term length increases were number one on the list of possibilities with lowering the interest rate close behind. Either way, you have to prove to the bank that you can’t afford your current (or soon to be adjusted) monthly payment due to some form of hardship.
The point is…there are lots of issues and new problems arising from foreclosures, short-sales and the new appraisal process and not much is being done about it. As a consumer, make sure you’re properly educated and be prepared for hurdles along the way. And if you’re selling your house “short” or buying a foreclosure or short-sale property, make sure you have an experienced agent who knows what they’re doing when it comes to these types of transactions (I may know of one).
Imagine this… The first trust (bank who the first/primary mortgage is with) approves their short-sale within 45 to 60 days, but the second trust takes 4, 5, even 6+ months to respond. And when they do, the response is, “Sorry, but we didn’t approve the short-sale” or “Sure, but we want $XX thousand cash from the seller due at settlement.”
And picture this… The first trust finally approved their short-sale 4 months ago. But, since the second trust has not given a response on their short-sale after a total of 6 months, the first trust says “enough waiting around” and forecloses. The contract then becomes void and, after 6 months of waiting around, the buyers are back to square one looking for a place to buy and live.
Pretty crappy, huh?
Unfortunately, these are real life examples happening here often and everywhere. And it’s killing short-sale transactions and frustrating home buyers and sellers everywhere.
The chances of the you actually getting to the settlement table and buying the house are much smaller when there is more than one trust or bank involved as compared to only one trust being involved. And the time it takes to get a response can double (or triple in some cases) when there are two trusts involved.
What’s the solution?
There isn’t one at the moment. But, you can protect yourself and manage your expectations by knowing what you could be getting yourself into. Part of doing that is making sure you ask the right questions including, “How many trusts/creditors are involved in the short-sale?” - before you write an offer on the property. You’ll avoid a lot of disappointment and frustration down the road.
On a related note, the Obama administration is attempting to address this issue by agreeing to share the cost of the loss with second trust/lien holders (aka banks/creditors). We’ll see if that pans out and what effect it will have…
Some of you may be wondering how you can go about selling your home the “short-sale” route, but aren’t sure how it works. Well, here’s what I call a “Seller’s Guide to the Short Sale Process”…
First and foremost, let’s define “short-sale” as it relates to real estate today:
A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the proceeds from the sale fall short of the balance owed on a loan secured by the property sold
If you’re not sure whether you’ll be “short” if you sell the house, hire an appraiser or ask a Realtor to do a CMA for you and deduct the balance of your mortgage(s), any line of credit(s), other lien(s) and cost of sale from the estimated market value of your property. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a good idea of whether you’re “short” (assuming the appraisal or CMA are accurate).
Let’s assume that you’re “short” and want to move forward with a short-sale. What are the next steps.
Well, fellow Virginia Realtors and bloggers Sarah Stelmok and Jeremy Hart beat me to the punch by about 24 hours with their posts on short-sales. So, with their permission, I’m going to cite their explanation about the process to save some time.
If you are a Seller considering a Short Sale in your property, you will need to gather the following information:
- All lien holders names and contact information
- All loan numbers
- A Third Party Authorization Form - this will allow the bank to discuss your short sale with your REALTOR. It needs to be agent and loan # specific and have an indefinite end date Some banks have their own form; others will accept any form you prepare. You need to get this to the bank as soon as you hire a REALTOR.
- Listing Agreement - this should include a CMA of the property to justify your list price
- 2008 and 2009 W-2s - or the tax forms that you filed if you do not get W-2s.
- A Profit/ Loss Worksheet for 2009
- Last 2 Month’s Bank Statements
- Proof of Disability or Unemployment or Job Transfer (if applicable)
- Hardship Letter - this explains why you want to short sale and why the bank should allow you to short sale
Once you have all of these items, the next steps are…
1. List the property for sale– Some banks want the property listed for the amount that is owed first, and they will be willing to drop to a more realistic price after a period of time. The listing agent will need to back up their list price with a good CMA! Remember, a BPO will be called out as soon as they receive a contract.
2. Receive and ratify a contract – needs to be ratified by the seller and buyer. Some banks want one contract at a time; others want to see them as they come in. Another reason to contact the bank ASAP.
3. Send Contract to Bank - get confirmation from the loss mitigation offer at the bank and preferably written proof of receipt
4. You will also need to send – all of the paperwork including the hardship letter you gathered/prepared prior to listing your property for sale (see earlier part of this post). The bank may ask for other items not listed here. They may also send you additional forms and paperwork for you and/or your agent to sign.
5. Be persistent, but patient - Make sure you ask how long it will take for a contract to work its way through the system. You want to hear it will take 30-45 days, but they may tell you that it will take just that long for them to even look at the file as is the case with CitiMortgage. You also want to ask about the likelihood the loan will be sold. They like to sell the loans right before they give you approval, and you’ll have to start the process all over if they do.
6. Stay as current as possible - Make sure you don’t get more than 2 months behind. Some banks will allow you to get up to 9 months behind, but they are harder to negotiate and keep off the auction block. If you don’t know what their policy is, ask.
These steps will need to be done for each bank that is involved and each bank has their own process. Some banks that are in 2nd position (2nd trust/mortgage) will only start processing their short-sale after they’ve received written short-sale approval from the 1st trust. This means that the overall short-sale approval process may take twice as long with two trusts/mortgages.
If you are considering pursuing the Short Sale route to sell your home, it is important that you consult an attorney that is familiar with the process. It is also important that you use a REALTOR who is trained in the short-sale process and has experience in Short Sales.
So I hope that this helps you out (thanks again Sarah and Jeremy). If you’re in a situation where you’re about to fall behind on your mortgage and/or are considering a Short Sale, contact me to chat about it and see what options you have.
Foreclosure, bank-owned and short-sale properties make up over half of total home sales in Loudoun County. This has been the case for some time now and will most likely continue through at least the end of 2009, if not longer.
A few things I’ve noticed…
- The percentage of foreclosure/bank-owned properties to total sales has decreased. This probably has to do with the foreclosure moratoriums that were in place from the end of 2008 to March 31 of this year.
- The percentage of short-sale properties to total sales has increased. This is due to banks becoming more willing to accept short-sales and because more sellers are trying to take the short-sale route rather than being foreclosed on.
- The increase in short-sales has left more home buyers frustrated than every before. The short-sale process is long, requires a lot of patience and has less chance for success than a foreclosure/bank-owned and traditional sale.
We should start seeing more foreclosures come on the market now that the foreclosure moratoriums have been lifted and Fannie/Freddie and other banks are back at it foreclosing on delinquent borrowers. In one way, this is a good thing because it will give home buyers more straight-forward and less stressful inventory to choose from. In another way, more foreclosures on the market could be bad because it could put downward pressure on prices. It all depends on the rate at which banks release all their foreclosure properties on to the market.