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Short sales: a little knowledge goes a long way

The short sale process is likely to be a staple in real estate agents’ business for some time, so dealing with bank bullies cannot be filled with spite. Here is one example of how to navigate tricky waters.

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More than an Approval Letter

I’m working on a challenging short sale. But, it’s challenging in a unique way. I was able to get the bank to agree to the purchase price, but the lender refuses to issue an approval letter unless the seller is current on her mortgage payments. Poor thing. She has no money. She is not working. Where is she going to get $4000, and here philosophy is, ‘why should she throw good money after bad?’

While I tried to work this through with the short sale processor at the credit union, I get a lot of “Talk to the hand” and “She can afford it.”

So, the seller decided to call in herself. The seller then phoned me shortly thereafter. She said, “Can they sue me if I do not pay the mortgage?”

It appears that the overzealous short sale processor must’ve forgotten that she was talking to a seller in the state of California or in the United States for that matter. The processor talked about taking the seller to court, tax liability, and the length of time that the foreclosure would be on the seller’s credit report.

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While information about taxes and judgments is always best left to an attorney or an accountant, it really does help to have a good understanding of your state’s foreclosure laws. (Of course, it always helps to have a few good attorneys available in case your client needs a little legal support, too.) A good understanding of foreclosure laws (often obtained by reading articles on your state’s Realtor® association website) can really help you to get a better picture of whether the short sale processor at the bank is merely being overzealous or actually has a leg to stand on.

My husband calls those people telephone and email bullies. They will blast you via email or be rude over the phone, yet face to face the same individual may have a completely different personality.

What’s the best way to deal with a bully at the bank?

The easiest and best way to deal with a problem like I had is to take it up a notch. Send a well-crafted email to a supervisor. (You don’t need to complain about the bully, even though you might want to do so.) But say that you just need help or clarification on some of the issues surrounding that short sale and so-and-so (the email bully) has been unable to address those questions.

Remember that you do not want to burn any bridges when working short sales. We don’t know how much longer we are all going to be in the short sale biz, and it may happen that your path could cross again with some of the same negotiators. Spite is an ugly thing.

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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.

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