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Short Sales Can Fuel Your Real Estate Career if You Know the Lingo

Learn about investors

I’ve been known to say that after you negotiate a few hundred short sale transactions, you really know and understand more about the profession of real estate than you ever thought possible.

As agents, we never planned to get into the title insurance business. Yet, studying the title report and making sure that you are able to clear all the liens in title is a vital part of the short sale transaction.

We also have never spent so much time focusing on the final settlement statement, crunching and re-crunching the figures to assure that the seller’s mortgage lender gets the net amount that they request.

Another thing that we never paid too much attention to before is the seller’s mortgage lender. Obtaining the name of the mortgage lender is one of the first questions that I ask a seller or a seller’s agent when evaluating the short sale. The next question that I ask is about the investor.

You may recall from your real estate courses that many major lending institutions are merely servicing companies. That is, they provide mortgage servicing for the mortgages that are actually owned by investors.

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‘Investor’ has become a buzz word in short sale transactions. Many times the short sale processor at a bank will tell you that s/he has submitted the file to the investor for final approval. Or, other times you might hear that the investor will not pay for any pest control work on any of the short sale properties. Phrases like these indicate that the bank is servicing a note and does not own the note. Frequently, these servicers are merely ‘go betweens’ that prepare and submit information to the investor for a final decision about the short sale approval.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also investors. Knowing whether the seller has a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan can be crucial to the short sale transaction. For one, both now participate in the HAFA program. So, a seller with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage who participates in a short sale may receive some great incentives. Additionally, if the loan is with Fannie Mae, agents are guaranteed their full commission (not to exceed six percent). Lastly, sometimes with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, there are strict rules guidelines with respect to the foreclosure date. Frequently, these investors do not approve the postponement of a Trustee’s Sale (foreclosure sale) in order to entertain the short sale.

There’s so much more to a short sale than just taking the listing. You now need to pay attention to title, escrow, and even the mortgage itself. Nevertheless, working short sales is a great way to become a master listing agent, take more listings than ever before, and consequently fuel your real estate career for years to come.

Here are a few helpful tools:

Fannie Mae Loan Lookup Tool

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Freddie Mac Loan Lookup Tool

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. Sheila Rasak

    August 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

    You did an excellent job in summarizing a complex system! Thank you for your post, it was truly outstanding.

  2. Anna Stout

    August 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Thanks Melissa for this information. Including the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lookup tools is very helpful!

  3. jphilip

    August 11, 2010 at 4:18 am

    Oh, and there’s getting the offer too. That’s important. 😉

  4. Career Toolkits

    August 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Great article, so you think that real estate agents will make as much money as they did before the market crash?

  5. Brent Mitchell

    August 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Great article. Practice does make perfect and after you have a couple hundred appointments, it just flows out naturally.

  6. Gordon Baker

    December 9, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I agree that short sales require honing your skills in analyzing the settlement statement understanding each line.

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