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We’re the Treasury- We’re Here To Help You With Short Sales (kinda)

uncle-sam-moneyLani recently wrote a post referencing HAMP, and today I received some additional information that I thought would be nice to share with the class.

Enter:  The Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program

On November 30th a Supplemental Directive was published by the Treasury Department that created a program incentivizing Lenders (Servicers) and Borrowers.  The Press Release does a good job of giving an overview but the real information is contained in the very lengthy Directive.  This program address’ both short-sales and Deed in Lieu of Foreclosures, but I am only writing about the short-sale part in this post.

The HAMP program offers incentives for the Borrower, Servicer and Investor should the Short Sale (or Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure) be processed in accordance to their guidelines.  The HAMP program is for those programs that are not already Freddie of Fannie Mac backed loans.  Freddie and Fannie already have their own guidelines.  Even though this program does not effect Fannie Mae, they have been selected as the “Financial Agent for the United States” to administer this program.

The program has some fantastic benefits, but (here’s the kicker) the incentive to use this program seems to be nominal.  According to page 12 of the Directive “The servicer will be paid $1,000 to cover administrative and processing costs for the Short Sale….” and the investor will get “…a maximum of $1,000 for allowing a total of up to $3,000 in short-sale proceeds to be distributed to subordinate lien holder, or for allowing payment of up to $3,000 in subordinate lien holders.  This reimbursement will be earned on a one a one-for three- matching basis.  For each three dollars an investor pays to secure release of a subordinate lien, the investor will be entitled to one dollar of reimbursement”.

The real benefit is to the borrow who gets $1,500 if they have vacated the house at the time of closing the short-sale.  This is labled a “relocation assistance payment”.

The program begins April 5, 2010 (but some applications can be processed prior) and sunsets December 15, 2012.

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What’s the Dets?

Ok, so lets say that the Servicer and the Investor decide that the reimbursement above IS enough money to justify the program requirements, here are some highlights of the requirements:

Benefits for the Realtor and Buyer

  • Borrower to receive pre-approved short sale terms prior to the property listing
  • The Servicer cannot negotiate Realtor Fees under 6% (just like Fannie and Freddie)
  • Requires that Borrowers be fully released from future liability for the debt
  • Provides the aforementioned financial incentives to all parties
  • Servicer must consider reasonable and customary real estate transaction costs for the community
  • 120 Days to sell the home with pre-listing approved terms
  • Home MUST be listed with a licensed real estate professional who is regularly doing business in the community where the property is located. (I love that one)

Servicer Requirements

  • Short-sale must be an arm’s length transaction
  • Servicer must proactively notify the borrower in writing of the availability of this program
  • The Servicer must independently assess the current value of the property.
  • Must establish minimum acceptable net proceeds before approving borrower for the program
  • May NOT complete a foreclosure sale while:
    • Determining the Borrower’s eligibility
    • While awaiting the return of the request
    • During the term of the term of executed short-sale approval
    • Pending transfer with an approved contract

Other Considerations

  • Buyer of the short-sale must agree to not attempt to sell the property for 90 days after purchase
  • Notice must be given to Borrower that there may be negative credit repercussions, etc…
  • Items needed to request a Short Sale Approval
    • Copy of executed sales contract and all addendums (not just the docs the agents want the lender to see)
    • Buyers Pre-Approval Documentation
    • Status of all subordinate liens

Cause for Termination of Approval

  • Borrower’s financial situation improves
  • Listing Broker or Borrower fail to act in good faith in listing, marketing and closing the sale
  • Significant change occurs in the property condition or value
  • Evidence of fraud
  • Borrower files for bankruptcy

There are also timelines for processing of the short-sale.  The Borrower has three days to get the contract to the Servicer after ratification.  The Servicer than has ten days to approve the “Request for Short Sale Approval” so long as all required documents are in.

My Take

Please read the source documents carefully, because this post is just to outline what I found interesting and how I perceived it’s contents.

I would love to see all of this be a requirement to all lenders and not just a optional program.  I’m not convinced that there is enough incentive to cause the Servicer to use this program, but I may be wrong.

These are good and lofty policies, but how practical are they really?  How are they going to be enforced and how are practitioners going to know they are available without asking?

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Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. bficker

    December 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    IF you were a HELOC in 2nd position who is owed $100k, why would you volunteer for a program that caps your ability to recoup at $3k? It doesn’t make sense! Every one of these terms outlined can be negotiated by an agent who knows what they are doing anyway. I can’t imagine how bad this is going to fail. There is absolutely no way to get this regulated or any way to convince lien holders this is a good idea.

  2. HowardArnoff

    December 2, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I think the government should have just bailed out the taxpayers rather than the banks. In my opinion, this will be just about as effective as all the previous plans that were widely touted and resulted in just about nothing in terms of tangible results.

  3. Ken Brand

    December 2, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    This is very useful. Thanks.

  4. MIssy Caulk

    December 2, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Matt, I read it, several times. The terms they used shall not will concern me.
    Do they have to do this?
    I am in wait and see mode. If it helps move them along then YEA to all parties, but very few used the Help for Home Owners Program.

  5. Brad Officer

    December 3, 2009 at 8:06 am

    RE/MAX President already has a YouTube video up describing the new process to potential short sellers. There is NO disclaimer in her video stating, “Only if your lender chooses to be part of this program”.

    If I were a Seller needing to short sale and reading all the press on this new program, I would want all the benefits and the $1500. The incentives are so good for the seller, this program may end up being mandated to the banks by the sellers demanding their lender take part.

    I hope BOA and Chase are getting ready!

  6. Dean Ouellette

    December 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

    $1,000 to agree to not go after any deficiencies? $1,000 to hire more staff to speed up the process? I did a video on this yesterday, I think it is nothing but feel good suggestions with no teeth and no basis in reality. But that is just one mans opinion.

    • Matt Stigliano

      December 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      Dean – I liked your video (and shared it on Facebook). Your point of $1,000 not being much of an incentive is a good one. If a bank doesn’t take a short sale now, I can’t see why they’d take the $1,000 incentive.

      The problem with all of these ideas is that they are guidelines – unless someone takes them on, they’re a waste of time. I remember talking to a lender when the talk of monetizing the tax credit as a down payment was all the rage. The lender said he couldn’t fathom why a bank would take the risk with so little payoff. He said it would die a quick death…of course, as we know, it never even made it to an official guideline.

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