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Survive a short sale by not shooting messengers

Short sales require a great deal of patience on the part of homeowners as well as their listing agents, but survival sometimes depends on whether or not an agent shoots the messengers.

Difficulty of short sales

While I understand that the phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger” can be traced back to Shakespearean times and even before, never before have I noticed a need to resuscitate it than in this tumultuous real estate market.

Times are tough, and real estate transactions are often difficult to close. But, it certainly does not help for any party of the transaction to “lose their cool.” In most cases, there is no need to threaten to report anyone to a manager or other authority. The person that conveys the information is generally a messenger, and need not be shot.

Be Cautious

My #1 tip for helping agents with short sale processing is this: be cautious in your conversations with the short sale lenders. When you finally have the opportunity to speak with the short sale negotiator for your specific transaction, listen intently and obtain as much information as possible.

Generally, the short sale negotiator will contact you for one of two reasons: 1) documentation is missing or needs to be updated in order to process the file, or 2) to provide you with the details of the short sale counter offer.

While I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, I have found that it is best to be a good listener and to collect as much information as possible from the short sale negotiator. Ask probing questions about bank timeframes, bank processes, when you might be able to follow up, how the short sale negotiator would prefer his/her short sale communication, and what might happen if you cannot meet the bank’s price, etc. When the short sale negotiator calls you, this is your opportunity to learn more about the process and what it is going to take to get your deal done.

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Intelligence gathering

If you consider each contact with the bank as an information gathering experience and not an antagonizing one, you may find that there will be more short sale closings in your future. The more you learn about the process, the better you will be at your job. Also, the messengers will probably be thrilled that their lives have been spared.

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. bficker

    March 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    I agree, but with some caveats. If a negotiators tells me their process and then says “Don’t contact us (or give us 30 days or whatever), we’ll let you know when we need something,” I smile, nod, and follow up in 2-3 days. The squeaky wheel gets the oil. A good negotiator needs to make sure that their file is being looked at consistently at the bank.

  2. Mylene Marrone

    April 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Almost all my short sale transaction have been aproved, I call the banks twice a week. You have to be nice with the processor and express them how grateful you are of the attention they are giving to your file.

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