What’s your real estate market like this week? Is it better than it was a year or two ago?
Back then we had the difficult task of sharing mostly bad news. A rational Fear Of Loss kept buyers who wanted to move from making a move. It was simple logic, buy too soon and home values might fall, resulting in a financial loss.
Last year the Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit artificially stimulated 1st Quarter home sales. The free-money party ended in April of 2010 and real estate sales activity went from gangbusters to bust. It pretty much stayed crappy until January 2011.
From what I can see across the inter-webs and personal experience, the unstimulated 1st Quarter of 2011 is equal to or better than the artificially stimulated 1st Quarter of 2010. Which means that most likely, the balance of 2011 will be way better than 2010. Not a month to soon, amen.
But I’m worried. Real worried.
I’m Worried About Shell Shock
It’s been so crappy for so long, some us may be suffering from Shell Shock. When someone asks if now would be a good time to buy, we start mumbling, our shoulders slump and the light in our eyes dim. We hem and haw. Because we’ve been so beat up for so long, our answer limps from our mouth to their ears. On occasion we allow past emotional scaring to over ride current intellect and logic. This is normal human behavior, but we’re not paid to be normal. We’re paid to perform.
People are counting on us for unbiased and expert real estate opinion and analysis. When they ask the question, “Is now a safe time to make a move?” they expect a thoughtful and intellectual answer. Not an emotional reaction steeped in Shell Shock.
It’s Time To Bury The Past and Rise UP
Note from the editor: The video at the top of this article is of Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise,” particularly relevant to the theme of this article.
The Fear Of Loss is perpetually valid. Yesterday, the likely hood of suffering a financial loss by buying in falling market was high. Today’s and tomorrow’s market is 180 degrees different. If our buyer clients want to make a move and they don’t, waiting may cause them financial loss.
It’s a new day and a new market. Let’s think, advise and act like it.
Let’s start by reviewing and sharing a few important factors with our homebuyer clients.
Price & Value and Cost & Expense Factors
Advising our buyer clients to Not-Buy-Now because home values may go down, and they will have lost money by overpaying, is an example making a decision based on the Value & Price factor. Last year in many micro-markets this was smart, simple and logical.
Today, if we’re sincere about helping our clients avoid financial loss, we’ll want to include Cost & Expense factors in our advisory analysis.
Unless our buyer clients are paying cash when they buy, they’re going to use mortgage financing. Their mortgage interest rate determines the Cost & Expense of buying and has a bottom line effect on whether waiting to buy will result in a financial Win or Loss.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Here’s how we can use both Value & Price and Cost & Expense Factors in our advisory analysis. To figure out if it’s better to wait or make the move, consider alternate future outcomes.
Three What If Scenarios
Keeping in mind that our local and national economies are improving, inflation is real and mortgage interest rates, are rising, We can evaluate the financial risks by asking ourselves which of these three scenarios is most likely:
- Home Prices stabilize and mortgage rates rise. Using the example in the picture above, if mortgage rates rise to 6%, waiting may cost our buyer clients the extra expense of $175.86 more per month. If the value of the properties they’re interested in don’t drop more than 13% in value before mortgage rates inflate from current rates to 6%, the decision to wait would create a financial compound fracture. Waiting would mean they’ve lost on two fronts, Value & Price and Cost & Expense.
- Home Prices drop more than 13% and mortgage rates rise to 6%.
- Home Prices drop and mortgage rates stay the same or fall too.
If you believe that home values in your market will fall faster and further than mortgage rates will rise (2. or 3. above), then advising your buyer clients to stay put is the way to go. Keep your eye on the market and when you see a favorable entry point, advise them to make their move.
If you think prices won’t drop more than 13% before mortgage rates rise to 6%, then your logical left brain will tell you it’s wise to advise your buyer clients,
“Because home values are less likely to fall more than interest rates will rise, now is a safe time to make move you’ve been waiting and wanting to make.“
Do your homework on property-value-trends for your micro markets, consider the implications of rising mortgage rates, Rise Up and advise with confidence.
Here’s what I think about my micro-market. . .
I think home values are stable and some neighborhoods will enjoy a rise in prices/values. Mortgage rates have risen about 1% in the last four months and will continue to creep up.
When my clients who would like to move, ask me if it’s a safe time to move, I would discuss Price & Value and Cost & Expense factors with them. Afterwards, we’d be out the door dream home shopping. Pronto.
What do you think?
What’s happening in your market? What are you advising?
Cheers and thanks for reading.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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:
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.
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 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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