In my previous blog posts I told you that real estate agents who are tired of losing commissions to “short sale processing companies” are starting to realize that processing short sales themselves is well worth the effort. But, I’m not sure agents realize just how simple this process–which can net them some serious profits and help them build some great contacts for the future (remember that homeowners could qualify for another mortgage at a reasonable interest rate in as little as 18 months if their short sale is completed successfully–which means they’ll probably be needing an agent to find them another home in as little as a year-and-a-half…). In fact, with a little time and energy, any agent can learn to master the seven relatively easy steps to completing a short sale–in short order!
- Complete a Property Valuation Analysis — Lenders will only approve a short sale if the borrower owes more than the property’s fair market value. And, the lender must be convinced that a short sale will net them more than a foreclosure. So, preparing a property valuation report that demonstrates this is the first step in the process.
- Contact the Lender for a Short Sale Application — After getting the borrower’s approval in writing (this is essential), you will contact the lender with that approval. Then, it’s best to contact the lender’s loss mitigation department by telephone with the borrower sitting next to you so the borrower can answer any questions the lender may have. This step will also help you start to build a relationship with the lender that will lead to a successful short sale transaction.
- Help the Borrower Write the Hardship Letter — Rather than an emotional plea, this must be a fact-based description of the borrower’s financial situation–which is heading towards a bankruptcy, a foreclosure, or both–written in the borrower’s own words. The letter must convince the lender that after analyzing the numbers, they will make more money from a short sale than from a foreclosure.
- Submit the Short Sale Package — Carefully completing the necessary paperwork and submitting the documentation that proves the borrower’s financial hardship (eg. bank statements, bills, pay stubs and tax returns – aka the short sale package) is critical. Submitting proof that the property is in a condition that would require the lender to spend a bunch of money on repairs in order to sell it they foreclosed (eg. repair estimates) will also help your case!
- Prepare the Short Sale Purchase Agreement — A properly prepared purchase agreement will ensure that the transaction goes smoothly.
- Follow Up With the Lender During the Process — Regular calls to the lender’s agent during the process will help the transaction along. You will know right away if they have any questions that need answering or additional documentation that needs to be submitted. And, it will give you chances to charm that agent!
- Negotiate With the Lender and Close the Sale — Since you’ve established and maintained a good relationship with the loss mitigation agent throughout the process (you charming devil, you!), as well as submitted a thorough, well-prepared short sale package, an approval is practically guaranteed. But, if the agent somehow finds a reason to disagree with your offer, be prepared to defend it with your comps, photos and other evidence that supports your numbers.
Now that you’ve gotten the approval (like we ever doubted you!) be prepared to close the deal as quickly as possible. Most approvals have time limits, and deals that aren’t closed within them are usually gone for good!