What You Need to Know About The Short Sale Approval Letter

shoart-sale-approval-letter.300x199Bank of America broke out its Cooperative Short Sale program in California about 3 years ago. Since then, many short sale agents have taken advantage of the fact that they can get their sellers preapproved for the program prior to going on the market. Preapproved is probably not the right word, although, that’s pretty much what happens. Preapproved suggests that nothing can go wrong, and things can go wrong.

For example, a preapproved Cooperative Short Sale seller last year lost her chance to close on a short sale because Bank of America assigned the loan servicing in the middle of her short sale. The new lender did not participate in the cooperative short sale program, so she was denied. She was denied because under ordinary circumstances, this seller had too many assets and her disposable income was too high. There was no hardship.

Some sellers think that they when they receive the Buyer Acknowledgement of Interest that they will receive a short sale approval letter before submitting an offer, but that’s not how the program works. First a seller will receive the BAI, and then a valuation letter. The valuation letter assesses and predetermines the minimum approved listing price. If that price is reasonable, you’re in luck. If it’s not, you’re kinda hosed. Most of the time, though, unless the investor is Fannie Mae, that price is reasonable.

Then the home goes on the market at the preapproved sales price. Generally, the seller does not submit financials nor a hardship letter unless the investor specifically requests it after the offer has been submitted. The short sale approval letter arrives after Bank of America has approved the purchase offer and the buyer. The buyer is named in the short sale approval letter and generally another buyer cannot be substituted.

In California, a deficiency judgment is not permitted, and by agreeing to do the short sale, the bank waives any right to pursue a deficiency judgment. If the property is a personal residence, odds are the seller will qualify for relief from paying any taxes on the amount of the mortgage that was forgiven. Talk to your personal accountant and seek legal advice before starting a Cooperative Short Sale so you feel comfortable moving forward. Do not ask your Sacramento short sale agent for legal or tax advice.

The short sale approval letter will arrive somewhere between 10 days and 4 weeks after the offer is submitted to the bank. The letter will most likely give the seller 30 days to move, so a seller might want to start making plans to relocate when the home goes on the market, especially in our fast-moving Sacramento seller’s market. Sometimes extensions are granted but not always. Sometimes, instead of granting an extension, the bank makes the seller start over with the short sale and will order a new valuation, which could increase the value for the buyer, if the buyer elects to wait. It’s not a good idea to ask for an extension because it is risky.

Bank of America will also require that the seller have no preexisting relationship with the buyer. Can’t have done business with the buyer or know the buyer or be related to the buyer. Selling to a friend could be fraudulent if the bank doesn’t know about it. If the bank proves mortgage fraud, it could overturn the deficiency waiver, so it’s just not worth it to try to manipulate the stipulations. If you know a person whom you believe has committed mortgage fraud, you can notify the bank anonymously at 866.880.1232. There is no reason to gamble with your short sale.

If you’d like more information about a Cooperative Short Sale in the Sacramento metro area, call your Sacramento short sale agent, Elizabeth Weintraub, at 916.233.6759 for a confidential consultation by phone.

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