In these difficult financial times, more and more sellers are finding they need to sell their homes for less than they owe on their mortgages, known as a "short sale ." This can be a good deal for you as a buyer, as long as you're aware of the extra time and work required to make it happen.
The Mortgage Lender's "Short Sale" Factors
The seller's mortgage lender will be considering many factors in deciding whether to approve a short sale, including:
- Whether the seller is deserving of a break, due to financial hardship caused by unforeseen circumstances such as layoffs, divorce or illness
- Whether it would be cheaper to simply repossess the house, make any necessary repairs and sell it through a real estate agent
- How many other properties the mortgage lender currently has in default
- Whether there are co-signors who can be held responsible for the balance owed on the mortgage
The Short Sale Process
Your chances of success with the seller's mortgage lender improve if your communication with them is organized and complete. Your first contact with the seller's mortgage lender's "loss mitigation department" is crucial in making a good impression. You'll want to send them what's called a "Release" or "Authorization to Release Information" already signed by the seller, which allows the mortgage lender to talk with you about the seller's mortgage.
In your first talk with the mortgage lender's loss mitigator, you'll want to find out:
- Whether they think a short sale might be a possibility
- What information they'll need to complete the process
Loss mitigators sometimes receive bonuses based on how many defaulted loans they can clear up, so they're more likely to pay attention to your sale if you can show them you're taking care of as many details and objections as possible.
It will be necessary to be specific about the seller's financial difficulties with what's called a "hardship letter." The mortgage lender may also require paystubs, copies of medical bills, checking account statements and other appropriate evidence from the seller. The seller's mortgage lender will look at the seller's credit reports to verify the seller's financial predicament. This will all take extra time.
Broker's Price Opinion
The mortgage lender will order what's called a "broker's price opinion," which gives the mortgage lender some idea of what the property is actually worth in the current market. A broker's price opinion will be based on:
- the value of comparable properties in the same neighborhood
- the general condition of the neighborhood
- the condition of the specific property in relation to neighboring houses
If the person who is inspecting the property needs to look at the interior of the house, you'll want to be sure someone is there to let him or her in. You may also want to provide the inspector with copies of low comparable houses in the neighborhood, and high estimates on any needed repairs. The lower the broker's price opinion, the more likely the mortgage lender will approve a short sale.
Settlement Statement Scrutiny
The seller's mortgage lender will want to have an advance look at what's called the " Settlement Statement" or "Settlement/Disbursement Estimate." The mortgage lender will be carefully reviewing:
- Commissions going to real estate brokers
- Where your financing is coming from (Cash? A loan?)
- Payments to cover outstanding liens and taxes
- Approximate date of the closing
- Any cash to the seller (a definite no-no)
- Any other expenses which may raise a red flag
While buying a home on a short sale can be frustrating and time consuming, your hard work can pay off in a home that's worth considerably more than you paid for it. Remember, that Jake Lee (your Realtor) handles your short sale every step of the way whether he is representing you as a buyer or seller. Jake has a tremendous success rate of getting short sales CLOSED and in the hands of the NEW OWNER as quickly and painlessly as possible!