Why Home Buyers Won’t Buy a Short Sale in Sacramento

Sacramento Short Sale Agent Elizabeth WeintraubLike any other home on the market today, even the few short sale homes need to be highly desirable in some way to entice a home buyer to buy a short sale in Sacramento. Price alone won’t do it because the short sale lenders will demand market value. I get emails from agents who ask if I would consider wasting my time and the seller’s time to submit garbage offers on behalf of their greedy little buyers who love to lowball, and you’ve got to wonder what planet these agents live on. As additional information, the agents might offer up the fact they’ve been successful with this approach once years ago, like anybody cares.

Oh, geez, thanks for telling me. I smack my head. Dang-nabit, I had no idea.

They might say let me tell you about my buyer. No, don’t tell me. I don’t care. I don’t want to hear about his or her motives, angles, mission. I care only if the buyers are willing to do what it takes to get the lender to approve the short sale. Will they wait for approval and not cancel? An agent asked yesterday if it was OK for the buyer to cancel after I worked my tail off to obtain the short sale approval letter, in the event there was something about the property the buyer didn’t like. Sure, I replied, but be aware that I will then drive over to that buyer’s home and slash the tires on his car. Oh, he laughed and laughed.

Wow, we really want to take that offer. The buyer sounds so dedicated.

Today’s buyers, most of them, don’t want to wait for the short sale process. If they do decide to buy a short sale, it’s because the home is unique and it’s the only one like it on the market for miles around. Other short sale buyers are those who have a home to sell, and they are are buying contingent on selling. No fuss, no muss, no risk. If the contingent home is my listing, for example, I know their home will sell because they will be realistic, so those generally work out. But there is not a flood of buyers for short sales today.

I sold a Victorian short sale home in downtown Sacramento a few days before I left for my long winter vacation early last December. I worked on that short sale while enjoying an oceanfront view and warm breezes. Everybody was happy at the inception. We submitted all of the required paperwork to both banks: to the Bank of America short sale department and Chase. Chase had recently joined Equator but was not yet in Equator for this type of Chase short sale. Before the end of January, we had HAFA short sale approval from Bank of America. Eureka!

Chase Bank, because its HELOC department wasn’t yet in Equator, dragged its feet for another 60 days, despite repeated requests and hammering. The negotiator at Bank of America refused to give us an extension on the short sale and instead insisted on starting over. An unusual shitty move when the servicing was not sold. When Bank of America re-opened the file, it somehow messed up processing it as a HAFA. A logical person would think Bank of America vendors look at the previous file, but that would be like expecting a Sacramento real estate agent to study the history in MLS of a previous listing — just ain’t gonna happen.

Despite the HUD identifying this transaction as a HAFA and the notes I routinely slipped into Equator as a reminder, nope, it was processed as a traditional. A short sale agent doesn’t ordinarily discover these types of bank screw ups until the counter is issued in Equator. The seller didn’t care about HAFA by that time.

At several points, the buyer wanted to cancel. She was tired of waiting and didn’t really understand the delays. She delivered ultimatums, which don’t work. At another time, the sellers wanted to cancel. They had moved out and no longer cared about receiving the HAFA incentive; they just wanted it closed. The opportunity to eat the negative cash flow and rent it was beginning to look attractive to the sellers. In between, neighbors called to ask if was OK for them to steal the seller’s cats and take the critters to city animal control. Like wha? My main concern was the amount of time it would take Bank of America to process this as a traditional short sale after Chase finally got its act together.

I find my way around stumbling blocks. It’s what I do. The short sale closed this week, with the original buyer happy as a clam, extremely excited and relieved. The sellers are ecstatic. They appreciated my calm demeanor and keeping them on track. Approval from both banks took 5 months. That’s unusual and a long time.

Although I have closed hundreds of short sales in Sacramento, there is never a guarantee that we can get both of the short sale banks to cooperate and issue approvals at the same time. Often issues and delays pop up, regardless of how streamlined we make the process. If something can go wrong on the other side, it often does. Patience is the key to a short sale. And buyers in Sacramento don’t have a lot of patience in today’s real estate market.

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