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We Pre-Qualify Our Buyers, Let’s Pre-Qualify Our Short Sales

Short sale listings need to go through a pre-qualification process.

Short Sale ProcessI had an agent from Riverside County contact me the other day about his short sale listing. He seems to be a pretty detail-oriented guy, and he had some really good questions. He was actually taking the time to study the property and the preliminary title report before signing the listing agreement and putting that property on the MLS.

Some agents are so excited to take a short sale listing that they do not take the time to qualify that listing and to assure that it is going to make for a viable short sale transaction. After all, if we pre-qualify our buyers, why not pre-qualify the sellers and the property as well?

Here are a few things that you should do in order to “qualify” your short sale listing:

On or around the time of the first consultation with the seller, obtain a copy of the preliminary title report or property profile. These documents will reveal how many liens exist against the property. You will also learn about the nature of those liens. All liens need to be satisfied at settlement.

In most short sale transactions, institutional lien holders will only “throw a bone” to other institutional lien holders in junior positions. So, if there is a lien against the property placed by Mr. Seller’s cousin, that lien may need to be satisfied by Mr. Seller, and not by the first lien holder. Is Mr. Seller going to be able to resolve the matter with his cousin? The answer to that question will help you to qualify the short sale listing.

The preliminary title report will also reveal whether the foreclosure proceedings have begun. Foreclosure time frames and procedures vary from state to state. If foreclosure proceedings have begun, then you need to be mindful of those dates when taking the short sale listing. For example, if the preliminary title report shows an auction scheduled for next Monday, the property in question may not be a viable short sale listing.

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A third way to qualify the short sale listing is to qualify the seller. Is the seller truly interested in participating in the short sale? Will she or he provide you with all of the documentation that you need in order to get the short sale approved? If the seller is reluctant to share information from tax returns and bank statements with his or her mortgage lenders, it is going to be tough to get the short sale approved. Lien holders have very strict guidelines as to what they require in order to consider a property for short sale. If the seller is not willing to adhere to those guidelines and submit the required documentation, then you may not want to “pre-qualify” this short sale listing.

There are a number of other ways that you can qualify your short sale listing. Start with these, and I’ll share a few more in the coming days.

Are you still on the fence about taking a short sale listing? Think again. Read here to learn more about the beauty of the short sale transaction.

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. CJ Brasiel Broker Associate

    January 26, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Great post. I would add that back HOA fees must be dealt with up front. Short sale lenders will not normally pay for HOA liens. Encourage your seller to keep up on these payments. If not a short sale may not be possible.

  2. Mike

    January 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Great Post. This is a major problem with many of the SS in my area. It should be so obvious, that you need to qualify the property, (liens) and the seller themselves. Why do these SS agents list it if they don’t know that it has a chance to sell? You are one of the most valuable posters Melissa, here and at AR!

    • Melissa Zavala

      January 26, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Mike: Thanks for the kind words. Many folks believe that selling real estate is “easy.” But, as you well know, there are so many things that agents need to take into consideration when preparing for a listing. My post only reviewed a few of those things.

  3. Justin Boland

    January 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Wow, this was excellent stuff. I’ve been reading/researching all day and it’s a welcome relief to find so much concise information in one post. As someone who approaches this from an economics/macro perspective I really appreciate the hands-on detail here.

    Have you done “comparison shopping” on the various software products that automate the short sale process and gather this kind of information for you?

    • Melissa Zavala

      January 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm

      Justin: I have cruised the Internet over looking for the perfect software. I think the short sale process is only as good as the folks on your team: the listing agent, the buyer’s agent, the title officer, a cooperative buyer and seller, etc. While some awesome software could help, you are only as strong as your weakest link.

  4. Eric Hempler

    January 26, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I 100% agree

  5. Bob Gibbs

    January 27, 2010 at 11:47 am

    We spend a lot of time with perspective short sale sellers making sure that they have exhausted all of their option prior to listing and that their home is actually a candidate for a short sale. There are some certification programs that we as agents can take which are intended to prepare you for listing short sales. I would recommend that prior to becoming a “Short Sale” listing agent that some education would be of great help.

  6. ColoradoHomeFinder

    January 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Every real estate board in my market should make this mandatory reading for it’s members. I hate showing short sale properties, and worse yet I hate writing offers on short sales because my experience has been that the listing brokers haven’t got a clue as to what they should be doing. I’m convinced that most brokers take a short sale listing for one reason only: to put up their sign, get into the MLS, and hope the phone starts ringing with new buyers (and not necessarily for their short sale listing).

  7. DC

    January 29, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Where can I go to get educated about the short sale process?

    • Melissa Zavala

      January 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

      Great question! If you are a Realtor® member of your local board, you can see what classes are offered y the local board. Most boards offer lots of classes that support agents in mastering the market of the moment. There are also two different designations specifically addressing short sale and foreclosure. They are SFR and CDPE, and you can obtain these certifications/designations by taking courses locally or online.

  8. Short Sale Software

    January 31, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Melissa, another great article. I think making the case is incredibly important. Why clog up loss mit departments with claims that don’t, or really shouldn’t, merit a short sale? I’m a proponent of short sales – but the case has to be real. There has to be distress, inability, and the bank really does have to make out better by doing the short sale than not. If all that is true, then making it happen is easy! If it’s not, or if the evidence is marginal at best, get ready for a drawn out due diligence process.

    It’s funny, I had always just assumed that everyone was doing due diligence before moving forward on short sales! Whaddya know 😉

  9. Homes In Pasadena

    October 18, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Excellent information Melissa.

    Once again you provide valuable, relevant information.

    Thank you – Steven

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