People often ask me whether the short sale transaction has gotten easier over the last several years. It’s a great question, and it is certainly something to ponder.
On the one hand, banks now have more than one individual working in the loss mitigation departments. Most banks have large loss mitigation departments, and many of those departments have multiple tiers of employees—each specializing in a certain aspect of the short sale negotiation process. Additionally, banks such as GMAC, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo have gone as far as to invest big bucks in large automated systems in order to increase productivity.
On the other hand, some of the problems plaguing short sales transactions still exist.
For example, many lending institutions are still slow to respond. Often the employees are assigned to tasks for which they may be poorly qualified or untrained. Other problems continue to plague the short sale transaction. I like to call these problems “The Series of Unfortunate Events” (with a nod to the children’s book series and Jim Carey movie with the same name). In the movie, one character did not like to answer the door because she was fearful of the real estate agent who was calling too often.
In the case of the short sale negotiation process, the fear is different—although the outcomes can also be unfortunate. Problems plaguing short sale negotiations include first and second lien holders who do not agree; banks whose BPO comes back at an unreasonably high value; banks that only approve certain fees and leave the buyer, seller, and agents to come up with the rest.
Those are the problems that still plague the short sale negotiation process.
That being said, a fair amount of experience will go a long way. What is it that they say? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While probably originally a metaphor for good health, experience with short sale negotiations will help to cure many ills that may arise during the process.
So, have short sales gotten easier to negotiate? No, they have not. Some banks have improved their response times, but the same problems still exist and should always be handled by an experienced soul.