You May Need More than a Batphone to Call the Short Sale Lien Holder

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People often call my office to ask for the phone number of one of the major lending institutions. When I provide the toll-free number that can be found on the mortgage statement, the callers generally seem disappointed. It’s almost like they think that I have the Batphone in my office. However, I assure you that I am not Commissioner Gordon, and I work every deal by calling most of the same bank phone numbers that you do.

One thing that may differ could be, however, the conversation that takes place on the call. When calling a short sale lien holder, you have to know the questions to ask. You cannot just rely on the individual on the other end of the phone line (who may be at a call center in India and have little knowledge of the foreclosure process in Arizona, for example) to give you the information that you need.

If you are a little bit stymied as to what to say in your first lien holder call and you have already submitted the short sale package, here is a list of questions you could ask that may help to get you started:

  1. Have you received the short sale package?
  2. Can you evaluate the package to see if it is missing any items? If so, what are they and how should they be submitted?
  3. Has a Notice of Default been filed? Is there currently a foreclosure date scheduled for this property?
  4. Please describe the short sale process and time frames for your bank.
  5. How soon will a negotiator be assigned?
  6. When will be the BPO (Broker Price Opinion) be ordered?
  7. When would you recommend that I call back to check on the status of the short sale?

The answers to these questions provide a terrific learning opportunity for novice short sale agents. So, listen carefully and take notes. Then, the next time you call the very same bank, you will already be familiar with their processes.

Now, do I ask those very same questions when I call the banks? The answer is that I usually do not. While lending institutions are continually changing their short sale processes and policies, in most cases I’ve worked with the institution countless times before and have become familiar with the procedures and policies. That being said, even Commissioner Gordon can learn a few things from Batman.

Photo: flickr creative commons by psd

About Author

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®. Before landing real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Many folks say that Melissa is genetically pre-disposed to success with short sales. In fact, last year she and her staff obtained over 500 short sale approval letters! When she isn’t speaking with lien holders, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.


  1. Good post Melissa, as usual!

    I agree, I get a TON of e-mails asking for lender packages – however the vast majority are right on the websites. I do have contact information for many lenders as well, including internal numbers, but anyone should be able to get in touch with a little persistence and preparedness.

    If you are active in short sales, chances are you will begin to get to know the people you are put in contact with, even if the growth in loss mit departments means more reps on the other end of the line. Like most industries, it ends up being surprising how small the world is when you are contacting these lenders 🙂

  2. I am researching, trying to find information out for some friends … they have a 1st and 2nd mortgage and the 2nd mortgage is what is causing confusion. Through job loss, they’ve burned up all their savings and 401K; we live in Florida if that makes a difference. They started the Short Sale process late last year, hiring an attorney, got a buyer and everyone has supposedly agreed to the Short Sale. However, the 2nd is a B of A/Green Tree mortgage and they are now telling my friends Attorneys they must provide $5K more _before_ closing or they will not submit a letter, agreeing to the Short Sale. The Attorneys’ and Green Tree are calling this a “Principle Reduction Payment”. The 1st has agreed to pay a portion of money to the 2nd, and apparently the Title Company cannot process this additional money because the “Submittal Letters” need to match (nor hold it as escrow). It this legal to force additional funds – what about traceability? Have any of you heard of this before?

    • Melissa Zavala on

      I’m not an attorney and am unfamiliar with Florida law. However, I do know that any monies paid to the second generally need to be paid at closing and approved by the first lien holder. I have heard of sellers being asked to make large ‘payments’ prior to closing. Has the individual doing the negotiating checked with the first lien holder? Maybe the first will allow the seller to pay the 5k on the settlement statement at closing. This is very common and usually the best solution in the state of California.

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