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Short sale moving targets- I didn’t get the memo. Did you?



The short sale process at Chase Bank

When you process and negotiate short sales en masse like I do, you begin to notice specific trends. Usually the trends that I notice are not issues or policies that I read about on the Internet or learn about at local Realtor® Board meetings and classes. The trends that I am speaking about relate to policies employed in loss mitigation departments at the major lending institutions.

The other day I noticed another one of these trends. My staff and I have been working on quite a few short sales with Chase Bank. Chase (by the way) also includes EMC and now Washington Mutual.

Generally, when submitting a new short sale package to Chase, you prepare your traditional stack of documents and fax it over with a pretty little cover sheet to the fax number indicated by bank personnel. Then, you call back and you hope and you pray that your fax has been received and uploaded into their system.

Suddenly, in the last few weeks, when calling to confirm that faxes had been received and processed, the staff at Chase is now requesting a completed Short Sale Information Packet. So, in order to continue moving your short sale along, in addition to the standard documentation, Chase now has their own short sale documents.

I didn’t get a memo about this new policy. Did you? Did anyone from the Executive Offices call any of you to tell you that this customized package is now required? I’m actually wondering whether the package has always been required, but the staff on the phone perhaps didn’t know the drill but went to a meeting about the famed package just last week. Or, is it just me who missed out on this important part of the process? (I’ve never heard of the information packet before, but miraculously have closed tons of deals with Chase.)

When processing and negotiating short sales, I see the role of the processor as a shooter always aiming at a moving target. The rules change all the time; the target moves from the east to the west and then back again. Agents negotiating short sales are required to aim and hit that target in order to get the deal closed. Well, it would be a heck of a lot easier to hit the target, if they would stop moving the darn thing!

This post is intended to help you become more successful in hitting those moving targets. Here is the link to the Chase/EMC Short Sale Information Packet: Chase Short Sale Information Packet . Do yourself a favor and print it out. The next time you take a short sale listing and the mortgage lender is Chase, you may need to use this application. Or… you may not. It all depends on whether they move the target again. But, that’s okay. If they move the target, I’m sure they’ll give you jingle and let you know.

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. Sheila Rasak

    July 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I agree, it is frustrating when they change the game, however there is a need for improvement. Chase is currently asking that we download their package requirements and then either fax or mail the documents directly to them. Then you must wait for someone on the other side to upload them into the system. I admit, it’s a bit antiquated compared to Equator, however I feel that I’ve been more successful in finding my negotiator and getting real answers vs. using the Equator system. With the Equator system, the Realtor is responsible for the uploads and then various tasks that follow. It almost feels like you’re more aware of where you are at in the process. Almost.

    Then again, the short sale process can be only as good as the negotiator you get assigned to…they really make or break the deals. You have to factor in how long they’ve been on the job, their attention to detail (like omitting the negotiated 2nd payoff as agreed to from the approval letter), or when their next scheduled vacation lies (Poof! Gone is your negotiator right before close and no one has been asked to step in on their files.)

  2. jim little

    July 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    How timely, I am going on a short sale listing in 45 minutes, thanks Melissa

  3. Shar Rundio

    July 28, 2010 at 12:00 am

    From what I’ve seen they’ve had it around for a while but it’s always been hit or miss as to whether it was requested or not. Better to be aware of it and armed with it than to have to mess with it later.

    Much success with your short sales!

  4. Augusta Ga Homes

    July 28, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for the timely information.

  5. Marc Holmes

    July 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Like Shar I’ve also seen this form before. Early this year a client brought it to me after receiving it from a local Chase branch. I then looked for and found it online at I assumed you always needed it and am befuddled to hear that this hasn’t necessarily been the case. This pretty much confirms that nothing about shortsales should surprising anymore.

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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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