Losing a buyer on a short sale
I attended a local Realtor® summit last week, and I had the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with hundreds of agents and affiliates. Two affiliates that I chatted with quite a bit are employees of Equator. You remember Equator, right? That’s the online platform that is used by many lenders in order to process short sales and REOs.
My Equator friends related to me that after surveying agents throughout the nation, the largest concern with respect to short sales still appears to be the fact that the buyers lose their patience with the short sale process and walk away from the transaction midstream. As a short sale listing agent, that’s something that I personally put the kibosh on in 2008.
And, it’s not that difficult to stop a buyer from walking away. Not only that but following these easy steps will not only help you to retain buyers for your short sales but it will also help you to be the best listing agent ever.
Methods to keep the train on the rails
Here are four easy ways to avoid losing a buyer for your short sale transaction:
- Create a bulletproof addendum that the buyer must sign before the short sale package is submitted to the bank. On this addendum, outline all of the possible items that the bank may not approve as part of the short sale. Make clear that if the bank does not approve these items, the sale will still move forward. Some examples of items that may not approved include home warranty, past HOA dues, pest control, and septic pumping among other things.
- Require the buyer to deposit the earnest money NOW, and not when the short sale approval arrives. Each state may have different policies about how this might work. However, when the buyer provides the actual earnest money check to escrow (or to the broker trust account or to the title company), the buyer shows the seller that s/he is “all in”. (It also seems more likely that the buyer will not continue to shop around for other properties since s/he has a deposit in on yours.)
- Provide weekly updates to all parties. Even if not much happens during a given week of the short sale process, you should always provide a weekly written update to the buyer’s agent (and also to your sellers). Hopefully, the buyer’s agent will convey the information to the buyers. I’ve learned that buyers will appreciate the regular communication and will note that small steps towards short sale approval are being made.
- Set expectations accordingly. It’s a good idea to provide all of your buyers’ agents and buyers with a document about how you manage the short sale process for your client. In this document, discuss time frames and methods of communication. In this way, if the buyer or the buyer’s agent has not participated in a short sale before, you can be certain that both are aware that approval is not always fast and furious.
If you are among the many folks that often lose buyers on their short sales when you are in the midst of the negotiations, try following these four simple steps. You may find that the buyers will stick around, and people may call you the best short sale listing agent ever!