bank of america fha short sale

When a Short Sale in Elk Grove Takes a Year to Close

short sale in elk grove

Happy couple after closing a short sale in Elk Grove © Big Stock Photo

People love to hear my tales about true stories that happen in Sacramento real estate, especially when it comes to long-suffering short sales in Elk Grove. Why Elk Grove? Because so many of the neighborhoods in Elk Grove were built during 2004 to 2008 or refinanced during the boom, which means Elk Grove has had its fair share of short sales. Also, many of the loan modifications promised to homeowners turned out to be jokes.

Lots of short sales close within 3 months, but every so often I get that oddball short sale that turns out to be a huge challenge.

Many oddball short sales are problematic due to condition because buyers just don’t want to do any work. They want a turnkey home in a nice neighborhood, and they don’t care if they buy the home for a little bit less if it needs work. They prefer to buy a home that requires zero work even if it means paying a little more.

I have sold this pool home in Elk Grove 5 different times. I listed this in October of last year. I was beginning to wonder if this was maybe a flashback to the early short sales of 2006. It was a boomerang, every time we’d go into escrow, BAM, it would fall back out again. It didn’t help that there were 3 loans, all with HUD. Yup, it was an FHA short sale through Bank of America, one of the worst types of short sales among the hundreds I’ve closed. We worked our way through it and got the Approval to Participate and received an approved price of $350,000.

Things were looking up, and we were very close to receiving the short sale approval letter when all of a sudden, BAM, Bank of America dumped the servicing and the loans for this Elk Grove short sale were sold by HUD to an institutional lender, BSI, which seems to specialize in buying underwater mortgages held by FHA and others.

The negotiator at BSI told us they were sending out an agent to do a BPO and obtain an estimate for the repairs. Instead, they sent a representative of an investment group that planned to buy the property from the bank after foreclosure. How do we know this? The guy told the seller who he was. Grinned and carried on about how they buy foreclosures directly from the bank, bypassing the trustee sale. The seller should have kicked him out of the house, but he didn’t.

We were a week or so away from foreclosure. The bank suddenly decided it wanted an additional $40,000. This was about the time somebody in the neighborhood stole my sign post and dragged the panel to the high school. Then some agent in Elk Grove — probably a doofus with too much time on his hands and not enough business — reported my listing to MetroList and accused me of relisting the home without written permission, which of course I had. I don’t understand the problem with some agents.

Now, other listing agents might have given up at this point. Just washed their hands of the whole mess. Not this Elk Grove Realtor. I promised my seller we would close. First, I told the negotiator at the bank that I knew all about the scheme to sell the home privately to an investment group and to intentionally thwart the seller’s chances of a short sale. There are laws against this kind of behavior. And I let him know that I had advised the seller to obtain legal advice.

A lawyer? BAM, the foreclosure sale was postponed. We ultimately found another buyer who was willing to pay the higher price and do the repairs required by the buyer’s lender in advance of closing. Those kinds of buyers, btw, are few and far between these days. By the hair of our collective chinny, chin, chin, we closed escrow today, a day early even.

Dangers of Hiring Any Old Realtor for Sacramento Short Sales

Bank of America Short SaleAll Sacramento short sales are not the same, and a seller should not just hire any old Realtor he or she can find to do a short sale. I can’t express the sentiment enough that if you need to do a short sale, you owe it to yourself to hire the best Sacramento short sale agent you can find because you have no idea, and I mean seriously absolutely zero idea, of what can happen in a short sale, but a specialist does. A specialist can prevent some crap from ever taking place to start with.

For crying out loud, Sacramento short sales are traumatic enough without lopping a second or third helping of pain on top of existing angst and agony.

In this next short sale I’ll share with you, the seller had hired some other agent in Sacramento to do his short sale. He called me because he hadn’t heard anything from his agent for a while and wondered what was happening. Asked if I would be so kind as to go over to his house and check it out because he lived out of town.

Tahoe Park is not that far from Land Park where I live, so I drove over but not before I checked his listing in MLS. Lo and behold, the listing was still listed in MLS as “expired pending” status, which is not allowed. It meant there was an offer of some sort, most likely expired as well but not necessarily; however, the listing itself had expired and there was no longer any agreement between the seller and the listing agent. The seller insisted that he wasn’t even aware they were in contract.

First thing I noticed when I arrived at the home in Tahoe Park: there was no sign in the yard. The place looked forlorn. Lockbox was there, but no sign. There was another lockbox, too, the kind attached to the gate by a preservation company hired by the bank, which meant a side door was drilled out. It would appear that the short sale agent had simply given up on this client and forgotten about the listing. I retrieved the key from the lockbox, inserted it into the lock and slowly pushed open the door. There was something on the floor in front of the door. God, I hoped it wasn’t a dead animal. It was a pile of old mail and a FedX envelope. I called the seller and he asked me to open the FedX envelope. Dated in September and this was February. The letter from Bank of America informed the seller his short sale was denied.

And this is how I came to list an FHA short sale with Bank of America in Tahoe Park last February. I’m not certain the previous agent even realized this was a HUD-related situation.

After MLS removed the expired listing and allowed my listing entry, the previous buyer’s agent called to submit the same lowball offer she had previously submitted. As a top Sacramento short sale agent, I know it is not necessarily in the best interest of the seller to submit a lowball offer on a short sale. Not only that, but since it’s an FHA short sale, two things must happen: #1) the seller needs to receive an ATP from HUD, without which the sale will go nowhere, and #2) HUD will prepare a formal appraisal, not a BPO, and the offer price must meet or exceed the net expected.

The agent appeared highly agitated and frustrated that I could not advise the seller to take her buyer’s offer, especially since the seller had previously accepted an offer from that buyer. Well, that was part of the problem, the offer was too far below the comparable sales. Would her buyer like to increase the offer or does the buyer believe banks are handing out short sales left and right like toasters?

It took a while to obtain an offer that would meet HUD’s guidelines and to meet the seller’s expectation of commitment duration. FHA short sales are not processed quickly and can take months and months. On top of this, since the sellers no longer occupied the home and had moved away, we needed to obtain a variance from FHA because the reason for moving did not fit like a round peg into a round hole. That’s how the government works. No square pegs in round holes allowed without a variance.

But the long and short of it is we got the ATP, we got the variance, and we closed the escrow in September. I know this without hesitation, and the truth is if the seller had not finally hired a top Sacramento real estate agent who used specialized knowledge to close this sort of FHA short sale, he’d have a foreclosure instead on his record.

The Rules for an FHA Short Sale

bigstock_Short_Sale_Real_Estate_Sign_An_7360545All short sale transactions in Sacramento, especially the FHA short sales, are handled from the perspective of the short sale agent and thus limited by that agent’s experience and education. The more an agent learns, the more an agent realizes in horror what the agent doesn’t know, or at least one would hope it works that way. But some agents take a 3-hour class and proclaim themselves to be certified short sale experts without closing any short sales.

Moreover, short sale seminar classes seem to be gearing up at the moment, even though short sales are on the decline. To sell those short sale classes, the promoters proclaim that banks want to hire short sale agents to move underwater inventory but that’s not entirely true. As long as homeowners are making payments and unlikely to default, the bank doesn’t care. Also, banks have no shortage of real estate agents at the bank’s disposal.

Agents can be such suckers. I know this because I worked in the real estate seminar business some 35 years back. That well known real estate guru is dead now.

I audited a short sale class a few days ago and was astonished at the crap thrown out. Some of the information touted as fact was completely wrong. I won’t name the class except to say that I understand agents have few places to go to get this information and, if one is starving to death, even a handful of sand tastes good.

A big deficiency exists in the FHA short sale field. I see this by the questions asked online from frightened buyers. An FHA short sale happens when the existing financing is an FHA loan and the sale at market value is underwater. HUD (Housing & Urban Development) has set forth very specific requirements and guidelines. The first is to obtain the Approval to Participate in the short sale program outlined by HUD. To get that ATP, homeowners must be first be examined and evaluated to see if they fit other foreclosure alternative programs offered through HUD.

This happens even if there are no other programs that fit that homeowner’s situation. This happens even if the homeowner can no longer live in the home because all of the interior walls have been ripped out and the plumbing stripped. After evaluation of such a situation, which sounds completely insane, then the servicer will request a variance. You just have to know the rules and follow them. The short sale guidelines make sense to HUD. The strict rules don’t have to make sense to anybody else.

FHA also offers loan modifications, for example, only to owner occupants. If a potential seller does not occupy the home, the loan modification will not be granted. No investor loan modifications. End of story.

Yet, that did not stop a homeowner who rented out his home in Sacramento from trying. Even after I sent him the particular HUD guidelines, he still hoped they might give him a loan modification. Who am I to stomp on a homeowner’s desperate attempts to keep a home? I won’t squash those dreams, even if the dream is impossible. It’s not my house. Besides, the owner, even though he was not an owner occupant and has long since moved away, still needs to be evaluated for other foreclosure alternatives.

In my most recent Bank of America FHA short sale, we waited to receive the go-ahead on the Approval to Participate before putting that Sacramento short sale on the market and obtaining a short sale offer. It is the sensible and smart way to do an FHA short sale with Bank of America. Even so, it still took another 90 days to obtain short sale approval. And I’ve been working on short sales since the market crashed in 2005. I’ve closed hundreds, more than a 120 short sales last year alone. This Sacramento short sale agent is always looking for ways to streamline the short sale process.

If you’re sitting in a FHA short sale in Sacramento that seems to be dragging out and going around in circles, you probably have a listing agent on the job who doesn’t close very many FHA short sales. Experience is everything in this business.

Another Bank of America FHA Short Sale

View from Balcony-300x199You can tell me the buyer is canceling the short sale, and when I’m looking out on this view, I’m only half as annoyed as I normally would be. This is the view from my balcony at the St. Regis in Bora Bora. They put up the orange cones to keep the drunken jet ski drivers from running over naked swimmers. Not that it does any good. When jet skiers get disoriented, there is no telling where they might end up. Just like buyers of short sales. Hard to say. They start out saying they want to buy a short sale but then when approval arrives, lots of them tend to freak out.

As though it’s all fun and games while they are waiting for short sale approval. They can run around and boast to friends: “Look at me, I am buying a short sale. Hey, I have a lampshade on my head.” But when it comes time to put pedal to the metal, some of them just can’t do it. Is it because they’ve had too long to think about it? In a regular escrow, they would be closed within 30 to 45 days, not sitting in limbo waiting for short sale approval. Is it because they forgot they were in escrow? It’s not like there is constant activity that they can see, unless they follow updates on my website.

In one escrow, the dreaded Bank of America FHA short sale escrow, we’ve been working on the file since April. That’s not unusual for a Bank of America FHA short sale. It’s par for the course. Other lenders can process FHA short sales in a normal time period, but that has not been the case with Bank of America. We closed 2 or 3 other B of A FHA short sales recently, and each was almost a year-long process. Because getting the approval from HUD is difficult for B of A. And by the time the bank analyzes the offer, another 4 months have passed and the ATP has expired. So, they start over. Those falling over “for sale” signs in people’s yards are due more to the lengthy process for a Bank of America FHA short sale than from buyers canceling.

Fortunately, Bank of America is moving its FHA short sales to Equator shortly. We hope this happens by its target date of February. It will be a joyful day to celebrate when that happens.

But in this particular Bank of America FHA short sale that we’ve been working on since April and just received approval on 5 days ago — well, the buyer up and canceled yesterday. The agent says it was due to the “whole house inspection” as though we need some kind of excuse. We don’t need no stinkin’ excuse. Just send the cancellation and muddle on with your life. We will sell this home again, and this time to a serious buyer. Or, so this Sacramento short sale agent continues to hope.

Sacramento Short Sales are Like Snowflakes

sacramento short salesYou can do all of the research in the world online and still come up with the wrong answer about a Sacramento short sale. That’s because no two short sales are identical. Short sales are like snowflakes. Each is different from each other. Sure, you can try to categorize them and say, oh, a Bank of America FHA short sale is so bad it makes you beg for a bullet between the eyes to put you out of your misery, but that wouldn’t necessarily be true. Sometimes, you might trade having your guts stomped on by King Kong.

Yet, this Sacramento short sale agent continues to list B of A FHA short sales because I am an optimist. I’m one of those glass-half-full people, and I especially am happy if it’s half-full of champagne. I toast you Bank of America, for your FHA short sales and the opportunity it presents for you to overcome this monster of an obstacle.

So, while you can partially classify a short sale by the bank and the investor, the condition of the property, location and appeal of the home in Sacramento, and the seller’s particular hardship all play an important role in the short sale. You can tweak any one of those factors and conditions, and it will change the outcome of your short sale. Throw into the mix a second loan, a Fannie Mae investor and any kind of financing that was not purchase money, and flip that switch on the blender — turn it up high, so high that the contents blow off the lid and that icky, gooey mess hits the ceiling and drips back in your face. How does it taste? Yuck is right.

Here is what some Sacramento short sale sellers will hear this month: It’s OK that the buyer walked because we’ll find another. Yes, it looks like some little thugs and thugettes ripped out the AC unit in the yard. Fannie Mae wants a higher price than an appraisal will support. But a good Sacramento short sale agent will persevere, soldier on, and drag that short sale kicking and screaming to the closing table.

The moral of this story is if you have a question about your short sale, you should ask your Sacramento short sale agent. Don’t go looking for answers online because what you will find is somebody else’s nightmare, and you probably won’t stumble upon your own situation. Each short sale is different. Unique. It is a snowflake.

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