Archive for August, 2011

What a Short Sale “Expert” told me today…

Some buyers touched base with my wife and me over the weekend to take a look at a $600k short sale property. We lined up a time to take a look but before heading out to show the house I dropped the listing agent a line.

The short sale was being marketed as an “Approved Short Sale” so I wanted to make sure what the listing agent meant as the answers you get to that question really vary. Just a pet peeve it should have been listed as a “Previously Approved Short Sale” but I digress. I asked the obligatory questions of who’s the bank, what do you mean by approved, is the file still open and active with the negotiator at the bank, etc. I “foolishly” asked if any buyer closing costs had been approved…the listing agent went into a big rant about Bank of America not EVER agreeing to pay any buyer closing costs. I tried to tactfully convey that they do but quickly realized I was dealing with an “Expert” who wouldn’t accept any questioning of her authority on the short sale process, BofA short sales, and on who came first – the chicken or the egg. I tried to chalk it up as someone having a bad day, on an ego trip, etc. but then confirmed my suspicion that this expert hadn’t closed too many short sales and surely not too many with BofA.  9 … 9 short sales total closed and she was the authority on BofA short sales?

I bit my tongue and headed out to show the house.

I arrive at the house and who is at the house – none other than the “Expert” listing agent (this is not customary in ID for the listing agent to be at the house during a showing). Turns out she was waiting for the water company to turn on service to the house. It was a 6,000+ sqft house on a fair size lot so we spent an hour or so checking out the property with Ms. “Expert” Agent hovering, trying to interject in conversations, and watching us through the windows as we walked the grounds. As we were wrapping up the showing Agent “Expert” was hanging around the door and quickly stated that the house was approved for “x” and that to write an offer for anything less than that would be a waste of time. Wonder if her Seller would like to hear of that? She then went on bad mouthing her seller clients and also another agent that had presented an offer lower than the previously approved offer. Classy. Then as the buyers went back through the house to check out a couple more things I stood there talking with the “Expert”. She told me short sales were all she did and insinuated she had a sizable number of short sales currently listed (4 times the actual number she has listed). She then told me all about her expertise and reiterated that short sales are all she does and that oh by the way she teaches short sale classes. yeeesh…..

After she finally left the property my clients chuckled at how big a head the agent had and I gave them the low down on her actual numbers and explained the reasons that she may have said some of the things she had, etc. Needless to say my buyers were not impressed with this agent, we both knew she was full of it and herself.

As I drove away I wondered how someone gets paired up with an agent that discourages offers, bags on her clients, etc. I felt sorry for her clients and then later in my drive I felt sorry for for Ms. “Expert” as it seems a rough existence to be so full or yourself and/or delusional to twist closing 9 of 42 short sales into a performance that qualifies her as an “expert” all the while helping clients down the road to foreclosure.

Don’t be fooled when looking for an agent to help you short sell. Coming through 22% of the time won’t keep you swinging a bat in the big leagues even if you look and sound the part. If foreclosure is what you are trying to avoid you want an agent that bats far better than .220 – give me a ring.

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Looking back at the FTC’s MARS ruling – What should I look for in an agent to list my short sale?

As of Feb 2011 FTC’s rules regarding the MARS disclosures went into effect. We scrambled to adjust contracts, agreements, and disclosures to meet these disclosure guidelines as our local association had not created anything to address MARS.  As of the beginning of July our association came out with forms to address this ruling and as of 7/15 the enforcement of the guidelines were adjusted as to how they would relate to real estate agents in good standing. There were some parts of MARS that were poorly applied to the process of agents helping home owners but a fair amount of the regulations in my opinion were nice to see for the protection of  homeowners.

The original MARS ruling outlined the following:

Advance Fee Bans (follow the links above for details)

Disclosures (follow the links above for details)

Prohibited claims

The MARS Rule prohibits mortgage relief companies from making any false or misleading claims about their services, including claims about:

  • the likelihood of consumers getting the results they seek;
  • the company’s affiliation with government or private entities;
  • the consumer’s payment and other mortgage obligations;
  • the company’s refund and cancellation policies;
  • whether the company has performed the services it promised;
  • whether the company will provide legal representation to consumers;
  • the availability or cost of any alternative to for-profit mortgage assistance relief services;
  • the amount of money a consumer will save by using their services; or
  • the cost of the services.

In addition, the rule bars mortgage relief companies from telling consumers to stop communicating with their lenders or servicers. Companies also must have reliable evidence to back up any claims they make about the benefits, performance, or effectiveness of the services they provide.

The above sentence Companies also must have reliable evidence to back up any claims they make about the benefits, performance, or effectiveness of the services they provide.” is one of the items that is very important in my opinion based on my communication with prospective Sellers when they are looking for a qualified agent to help them and/or their agent when I am bringing one of my buyer clients to a short sale.

I cannot tell you how many times I have a prospective short sale seller call me to discuss the process, interview me, etc. and they mention to me that another agent is telling them they have closed X amount of short sales and their close ratio is X% of the short sales they take. According to our MLS’s data I have closed more short sales than anyone in our MLS excluding one agent (with a far lower closing ratio than me); being in the thick of our short sale scene it is relatively easy for me to know off-hand that the home owner in distress has been lied to by an agent. A quick 30 second search of the MLS will confirm this.

My purpose here is not to bag on anyone, rather I am tired of hearing of agents overestimating their knowledge and success rates at the expense of a homeowner. If you are looking at doing a short sale on your house you can ask the agent to provide to you a list of all their closed short sale transactions to back their claims. It is also a wise idea to ask the agent if they are the one that is working with the bank (Many agents outsource their short sale listing bank work to “experts” that in my experience are a 50/50 scenario). Maybe it’s just me but closing 50% of the time doesn’t strike me as a ratio that would suggest any expertise.  As a Seller I would want to know if the agent telling me they had closed a certain number of short sales at a given close ratio was being straight with me or just looking for another listing.

Apart from the items discussed above the are a number of other things you might ask an agent that may help you in making the best decision for the best possible outcome.


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