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For effective short sale negotiations, get good walking shoes

People say that I have a shoe fetish. I’ve even been accused of that fetish by folks who read my articles regularly. Yes, I’m a girl that has trouble avoiding the shoe and handbag areas of the local department stores.

Today I am also going to discuss shoes yet again. As the proverb goes (and there are many variations):

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

Translation: Do not criticize someone until you have actually been in their position, doing things as they are doing them.

Never has this proverb hit home for me more than in the last four years. Over the last few years, I have negotiated hundreds of short sale transactions. I have also read hundreds of blog posts attacking banks and mortgage lenders for being inept, irresponsible, unprofessional, and disorganized.

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I have also personally experienced much of the turmoil discussed in the articles that I read. Just like everyone else working short sales, I have been hung up on, yelled at, bullied, and disconnected. Yet I realized early on in my journey through the wacky world of short sales that it is not about me. It is about understanding the overwhelming nature of the short sale from the point of view of the mortgage lender.

  • I sometimes have difficulty hiring one or two employees who are well-qualified to negotiate short sales. The bank must be required to hire hundreds of them.
  • I sometimes have difficulty with our office telephone system and its 30 extensions. The bank must have a telephone system 1000 times more sophisticated than my own.
  • Our six negotiators in house sometimes have difficulty with our 200+ files. Individual negotiators at some banks have over 400 files.
  • If I take a few days off and don’t read the news, I miss out on the latest information in the short sale arena. How can the banks possibly fully educate their staff on all of the latest short sale programs and procedures?

Once you can understand the bank’s position, you can successfully strategize to get the job done for your client. Yes, I have learned to walk a mile in the mortgage lender’s shoes. And, it doesn’t matter to me whether they are made by Manolo Blahnik or Nike.


Photo: flickr creative commons by Paul Keller


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Written By

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.



  1. sfvrealestate

    July 26, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Sorry, Melissa, I'm not buying it. I've done my own short sales, too, and have used pro negotiators on some as well. (And I've always had pleasant experiences with bank negotiators, believe it or not.) First, re the banks hiring hundreds of negotiators: they've had three years plus to do this, plus lots of TARP money to do it with. At this point, there should be no excuse for banks to not be fully staffed-up with well-trained people who have manageable work loads.

    Second, as far as missing info: the banks are creating that info. There's no reason for them NOT to be able to educate their employees.

  2. Peter

    July 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Most of these employees that service short sales are paid $10-12 an hour to handle a transaction that can either greatly aid families or ruin them. Having connections with higher-ups within banks greatly help in successfully executing a short sale. An expert negotiator should have these connections and should be able to deal/work with those employees that lack the proper incentives to handle each individual transaction with effort.

  3. John Michailidis, GRI, CRS, JD

    July 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    The undeniable fact is that the criminal banking syndicates are guilty of massive and systemic fraud, which has bankrupted this country. I have no sympathy, ZERO, for such blatant criminality.

    The housing catastrophe is 100% the fault of banksters and their supporters in Washington — take a walk in THOSE shoes . . . the PEOPLE's Shoes.

  4. Arthur Chatroo

    July 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Do you want to know the real reason why short sales are so difficult and take so long? Then read the October 2009 Report published by the National Consumer Law Center (a non-profit organization) entitled: "Why Servicers Foreclose When They Should Modify And Other Puzzlers of Servicer Behavior" Its posted on their website at I also suggest reading the trascript of a speech given by Federal Reserve Board Governor Sarah Raskin in November of 2010. (The transcript can be found at: As noted in the NCLC report and in Sarah Raskin's speeck, loan servicers make more money the longer it takes for a short sale (or a foreclosure) to be completed, and they tend to make more if the loan goes to foreclosure than if it is modified. Quite frankly, I believe that the reasons that have been given by loan servicers (inlcuding the major banks who only own 10 to 20% of the loans that they service) have simply been attempts to cover up for what is really going on. Many of the issues they have raised are matters that are well within their control (i.e, staffing, training, and the form over substance complexity of the short sale and loan modification processes.) Also, in case you didn't know, loan servicing seems to be a very profitable business. In September of 2010 OcWen acquired HomeEq (another loan servicing company) for a price that was reported to be $1.3 Billion. (See Enough said.

  5. tabjohnson

    August 3, 2012 at 8:47 am

    A short sale is almost as damaging as a foreclosure to a consumer’s credit. The sooner the foreclosure is consummated the sooner the consumer can renter the housing market. By the time a short sale is completed, the borrower would be well on their way to restoring their credit. As noted, short sales are just political eye wash and are very profitable for the servicers.
    ” Mr Wall Street Bankster, do you want the keys or should I leave the house open?”

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