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Fast passes and eTickets do not exist in short sales



Short SalesDo you remember the E ticket? Back in the day, when you went to Disneyland, you would purchase a ticket book that would provide you with tickets to access the rides and attractions. There were not too many E tickets in the book. The E ticket was the one that could get you into the very best rides like the Matterhorn Bobsled and It’s a Small World. Disneyland moved away from the tickets many moons ago, but now they offer a Fast Pass that allows you to jump to the front for certain rides.

One of my clients sent me an email the other day with a link to a site he had found that teaches you all of the short sale loopholes—a link to a site that apparently sells a Fast Pass or E ticket for obtaining short sale approval.

There are so many products on the Internet that claim to aid in the short sale negotiations. But, this one caught my attention. I clicked on the link and went to the site, and watched a ten to twelve minute commercial for a product that purports to tell you how to beat the Bank of America Equator system, how to get short sale approval in 60 days, and how to get your short sale in front of the decision makers. I’m not sure how much this particular product costs, but I can tell you one thing for certain. I already know the top-secret method for getting short sale approval in 60 days from Bank of America, and I am going to tell you the secret right now so that you do not have to pay any money to anyone else.

Top Secret Instructions for Obtaining Short Sale Approval

The secret has two parts. The first is hard work, tenacity, and diligence. The second part of the secret is in the details. If you do exactly what you are asked through the Equator system in the messages and you do it immediately when you are asked, you save lots of time and get your approval more efficiently. You need to be quick and efficient and you need to demand them same from those on the other side of the Equator computer screen. And, if you have trouble with the system, you need to use the system and its messaging capabilities in order to send emails to executives within the team for your specific short sales.

In these tough and challenging economic times, there is always someone out there who wants to make a buck. While there are quite likely a number of really great products available, in the short sale arena, there is one thing that is certain. The only way to be successful is through hard work. No product can replace hard work, and there is no such thing as a Fast Pass or E ticket for the wild ride we are on right now. And, by the way, this wild ride is not in Fantasyland.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons by kevinpoh

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.

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  1. Sheri Moritz

    December 14, 2010 at 7:38 am

    The best fast pass I have seen for B of A short sales is contacting @BofA_Help on Twitter. They always respond within 10 minutes and have always been able to help when I get nowhere on the phone, equator help or messaging through their system. Last week I needed a letter of authorization approved and was told 2-3 days when I called and emailed. I tweeted them, the made an outgoing call and called me and within 5 mins I had my authorization letter approved and able to upload my offer. They are top notch!!

  2. Agent for Movoto

    December 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    not much of a “secret”, really…. but always good to hear again. great post!

  3. Sig

    December 16, 2010 at 8:26 am

    kFast passes and eTickets do not exist in short sales- I agree, it takes hard work. You do have to respond immediately to the messages and assignments. If you have a problem though, you still have to email them many, many times until a real human being lowers him/herself to call you. If they will call, you can usually fix the problem in less time than it took them to call you. They need to learn this but I doubt they will.

  4. Rob McCance

    December 17, 2010 at 11:20 pm


    Good post. Diligently following all the criteria in the Equator system can surely help you obtain an approval letter if there’s going to be one.

    I found this interesting in your bio:

    “In fact, last year she and her staff obtained over 500 short sale approval letters! ”

    I realize you probably do not have this statistic, but I wonder of those 500, how many of them closed, with the original buyer that was under contract when the approval letter was obtained.

    I once had a short sale specialist listing agent here in Atlanta tell me “all my short sales close” to which I replied “after how many buyers have come and gone.”

    She actually admitted that my client on that particular property was buyer #6!

    I tell ya, I’ve represented the buyer in two separate SS attempts and I don’t know how you guys specialize in this sort of thing.

    I guess there’s something for everyone out there!

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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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