Short Sales: Demand High, but Supply Low? Banks Making It More Difficult to Close Short Sales?
According to this Business Week article, Short Sales: A Fraying Lifeline for Homeowners, banks are making it more difficult for financially troubled homeowners to close short sales. According to the article, one year ago banks were responding to short sales in an average time period of 4.5 weeks and frequently forgiving the unpaid mortgage balances (i.e. the portion of the mortgage not paid off by the short sale), but now the banks are taking an average of 9.5 weeks to respond to short sale requests and frequently demanding that the seller sign a promissory for part of the shortage, or the seller (or someone else) pay additional cash funds to close the short sale. In short, one year ago banks were eager to close short sales due to their capital being depleted, but now, due to government bailout funds and record fee income (another way banks stick it to consumers), banks are being more difficult.
According to the article, "The situation could be a setback for the already wobbly housing recovery. A record one-third of borrowers owe more on their mortgage than their properties are worth, notes research firm First American CoreLogic. The number of underwater homeowners will only continue to rise since values are still falling. And if distressed borrowers can't negotiate short sales, more may be forced into foreclosure, further depressing prices. Since the housing bust, short sales have been a key part of the market. They accounted for 12% to 18% of national home sales over the course of this year. In such hard-hit areas as Miami and Phoenix, roughly a third of listings involve underwater mortgages, according to real estate brokerage ZipRealty."
The article quotes a Bank of America spokesperson as saying "A selling homeowner may be expected to reasonably participate in the shortfall on a sale, unless a financial hardship is demonstrated." According to the article, OneWest Bank has a policy which "requires borrowers who sell their homes for less than the mortgage to pay part of the difference. One West, formerly IndyMac Bancorp, was taken over last year by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and purchased in March by a group of investors that includes billionaires George Soros and Michael S. Dell. As part of that deal, the FDIC agreed to eat most losses after the first $2.5 billion. Given the government's broad support of One West, some real estate agents and sellers are frustrated that the lender wants a promissory note—especially in cases where the government is picking up some losses." Again, this distortion of the market is due to government intervention. If the government had not provided any backstop for the losses incurred by this investor group they would be forced to deal with market realities instead of a government created profit opportunity. On another note, it is interesting to see that George Soros is making money by sticking it to sellers in financial distress. I find this particularly hypocritical since Mr. Soros is a major campaign contributor to the Democrats who supposedly "care about people". Anyone who thinks the Democrats are not using this financial crisis to financially benefit their largest campaign contributors on Wall Street, etc. needs to rethink their position (just look at all the money Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank received from AIG, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and George Soros).
According to the article short sales are further complicated when there are 2 different lenders involved, which usually happens when there are 2 or more mortgages on the property. The 2nd lenders, in particular, are demanding 5% of the sale proceeds in order to satisfy their 2nd mortgages. Thus far, I have not personally experienced this demand, but we will see. The article does mention that new government rules to encourage short sale transactions are imminent, but I personally do not have any hope that this government knows what they are doing so I don't think the rules will help much.
Based on the proven fact that lenders lose less with short sales versus foreclosures (due to less legal fees, property holding costs, maintenance costs, etc.), the banks should be favoring short sales, and, therefore, actively encouraging them. The question then is why are the banks making short sales more difficult? My guess is that the banks get more government bailout funds when they foreclose rather than approve short sales since with short sales the banks are voluntarily accepting their losses. I haven't seen any actual documented proof of why the banks are being difficult with respect to short sales, but there has to be a reason. Therefore, I think it has to do with the government bailout funds. Unfortunately, the indisputable conclusion of all of this is that more foreclosures will occur as a result of the actions taken by the banks.
If you are homeowner in financial distress the most important information to take from this article is that short sales are difficult to close so you should hire a knowledgeable short sale REALTOR to sell your home. This is different from the normal recommendation that a seller hire a neighborhood expert. Closing short sales requires a different skill set so you will need a different type of REALTOR to close your short sale.
If you are a homeowner in Middle Tennessee who cannot pay your mortgage and your home is worth less than the amount(s) you owe, please contact me to discuss selling your home via a short sale. I am a Middle Tennessee distressed real estate, short sale, pre-foreclosure (preforeclosure) and foreclosure expert and REALTOR. I serve real estate owners, homeowners and investment property owners in Rutherford County TN, Williamson County TN, Davidson County TN, Murfreesboro TN, Smyrna TN, La Vergne TN, Eagleville TN, Lascassas TN, Rockvale TN, Christiana TN, Brentwood TN, Franklin TN, Nashville TN and Belle Meade TN.
If you need to sell your home fast you can request help on my website JimTheRealEstateExpert.com and my Active Rain profile Jim McCormack's Active Rain Profile - Short Sale REALTOR and Real Estate Expert.
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- Stress - A short sale is less stressful than a foreclosure. With a short sale you have some say in the outcome. With a foreclosure you are at the mercy of 3rd parties.
- Credit - A short sale is less damaging to your credit. Either way you will have late payments on your credit report, but with a successful Short Sale the debt will usually be listed as satisfied. A foreclosure will show up on your credit report.
- Time - If you notify your lender that you are trying to sell your home many times they will give you more time to stay in your home while you are trying to sell it. You will likely not have to pay your mortgage during this time. You should use this time to save your money so you will have some money to move and find another place to live.
- Release - If you successfully close a short sale you will usually be released of remaining unpaid debt. In many states, with a foreclosure the lender can continue to legally pursue you after the foreclosure proceedings are over in order to try to recover the amount of the debt they were still owed after the lender sells the home (it is called a deficiency judgment). Walking away without having any further obligation to repay a debt is reason enough to pursue a short sale.
- Responsibility - The responsible thing to do is to pursue a short sale. Most homes are foreclosed simply because the owners refuse to face reality and will not deal with the situation. This hurts the homeowner and the lender. There is no reason for this. The responsible thing to do is to mitigate the lender's loss and give yourself a chance at a future without that remaining mortgage debt weighing you down.