Chris Diaz is the founder of Charis Financial, Inc. He has over 15 years experience in helping homeowners with their mortgages and has closed hundreds of short sales over the last 4 years. His website is http://www.charisfinancialinc.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org; reference ³Short Sales² in the subject line. I was recently approved for a short sale by (my bank). The loan was in escrow and ready to close within a few days. I then got a letter from (the bank) denying my short sale due to “quality review”. My approval letter wasn’t set to expire for another two weeks and nobody in (the bank) could give me a valid reason as to why I received this denial. Have you seen this scenario before and do you have any suggestions for me as I really don’t want to lose my home to foreclosure?
Yes, the out of the blue “QA Review” denial. This one is a difficult one because of the lack of explanation from your bank. It’s difficult to accept that one can have an approval in hand, with an expiration date that hasn’t yet expired, and still get a denial for a reason that is unexplained. However, this is a reality and it does happen, albeit somewhat infrequently.
Even though your lender has accepted responsibility for their part in one of the largest instances of mortgage fraud on record with the robo-signing incident, they have a QA team that dedicates a great deal of time and effort in making sure that their company is free from other purveyors of fraud. As well they should because there are lots of unscrupulous people trying to steal a buck instead of earn one.
One recent incident, in which a bank was victimized, was where short sale negotiators were doctoring up fake approval letters along with a fake bank account to have funds wired to, and stealing money that way. The FBI said that three California men probably netted $10 million doing that.
Here are two of the main reasons that we’ve been told as to why a QA department would deny your file and what you can do to reverse or overturn the decision:
1. Buyer information is incorrect. Sometimes QA will deny a deal if the buyer’s preapproval has inaccuracies like the wrong NMLS number, broker number, or property address. This can also happen if the buyer’s “proof of funds” is determined to be fraudulent or doctored in any way. We have also seen it happen where the buyer is getting a loan but has enough money in the bank to pay for a property in cash. Even though they could’ve bought the house in cash, because there was no preapproval letter for a loan, QA denied the short sale until we provided that letter. This has happened even if we weren’t specifically asked for the letter.
2. The Equator account being used to process the short sale has been flagged. Some banks use an automated processing system called Equator to handle their short sales. Equator centralizes all communication for all files that a real estate licensee is working on with them. Sometimes, a licensee can involve themselves in schemes like I described above, or can just be guilty of shoddy work and upload documents from files incorrectly. If the QA team catches either of these two things they may flag that file or all of the files of that particular agent. Once that happens they would contact the agent for an explanation. However, if they feel that there are deliberate inaccuracies in the file an agent can be suspended from doing any further deals with that bank. If that happened your deal could be denied even if there was nothing fraudulent done on yours.
If a QA team has denied your short sale, have your agent address these two situations first as they are the most common. So long as you’re dealing with someone who is ethical, there is probably just a minor oversight of buyer info that the bank needs to have satisfied. Have your agent submit the complete buyer info first and then call to have the decision reversed.
RISMEDIA, Monday, February 13, 2012— Last month, I outlined the reasons why you should get back on the short sales bandwagon if you’ve fallen off. In the current market, more and more lenders are coming around to the realization that short sales are a favorable option after all and, therefore, are processing and closing short sales at a much faster pace.
That said, there are critical steps that must be taken throughout the short sale process.
First and foremost, make sure the home seller is truly eligible for a short sale. A credible, documented financial hardship resulting from a loss of employment, divorce, major medical crisis, death, etc., must exist. This financial hardship needs to be proven with proper documentation as well as detailed financial statements, paystubs, bank statements and tax returns.
To properly identify and qualify a potential short sale client, conduct a thorough interview right up front—and be sure to leave no stone unturned. This will prevent you from futilely pursuing a short sale with the lender. I use the following Short Sale Seller Questionnaire with my clients:
1. Is your property currently on the market? Is it listed with an agent?
2. Is this your primary residence?
3. When was the property purchased?
4. What was the original purchase price?
5. Who holds the mortgage?
6. What kind of loan do you have?
7. Do you have any other liens against your property?
8. Who is on the title (or deed) for the property?
9. Who is on the mortgage?
10. Do you have mortgage insurance?
11. Are you current with your payments? If not, how far in arrears are you?
12. How much do you owe?
13. Why do you need/want to sell?
14. What caused you or will be causing you to miss your mortgage payment obligation?
15. Do you have funds in accounts that could be used to satisfy the deficiency?
16. Are you currently living in the property? If not, is the property being maintained?
17. How soon do you need to move?
18. Are you up to date on your condo or HOA payments (where applicable)?
19. Do you owe any back taxes?
20. Are you considering filing for bankruptcy protection?
21. Are you currently pursuing a loan modification with your lender?
22. Who is occupying the property?
23. Do you hold or are you subject to any type of security clearance related to your job?
24. What are your plans after you sell?
25. Are you looking to receive any money from the sale of your home?
26. How much income are you currently making from all sources?
27. Do you anticipate any income change in the not-too-distant future?
28. Do you have a pen and a piece of paper to make a couple of notes?
Emphasize that inaccurate or missing information will potentially delay or completely thwart the short sale process. Next month, we’ll take a close look at working with lenders to secure a short sale.
The sad reality is that negative equity, short sales, and foreclosures, will likely be around for quite a while. “Negative equity”, which is the excess by which total debt encumbering the home exceeds its present fair market value, is almost becoming a fact of life. We know from theRMLS™ Market Action report that average and median prices this summer have continued to fall over the same time last year. The main reason is due to the volume of “shadow inventory”. This term refers to the amorphous number of homes – some of which we can count, such as listings and pendings–and much of which we can only estimate, such as families on the cusp of default, but current for the moment. Add to this “shadow” number, homes already 60 – 90 days delinquent, those already in some stage of foreclosure, and those post-foreclosure properties held as bank REOs, but not yet on the market, and it starts to look like a pretty big number. By some estimates, it may take nearly four years to burn through all of the shadow inventory. Digging deeper into the unknowable, we cannot forget the mobility factor, i.e. people needing or wanting to sell due to potential job relocation, changes in lifestyle, family size or retirement – many of these people, with and without equity, are still on the sidelines and difficult to estimate.
As long as we have shadow inventory, prices will remain depressed. Why? Because many of the homes coming onto the market will be ones that have either been short sold due to negative equity, or those that have been recently foreclosed. In both cases, when these homes close they become a new “comp”, i.e. the reference point for pricing the next home that goes up for sale. [A good example of this was the first batch of South Waterfront condos that went to auction in 2009. The day after the auction, those sale prices became the new comps, not only for the unsold units in the building holding the auction, but also for many of the neighboring buildings. – PCQ]
All of these factors combine to destroy market equilibrium. That is, short sellers’ motivation is distorted. Homeowners with negative equity have little or no bargaining power. Pricing is driven by the “need” to sell, coupled with the lender’s decision to “bite the bullet” and let it sell. Similarly, for REO property, pricing is motivated by the banks’ need to deplete inventory to make room for more foreclosures. A primary factor limiting sales of bank REO property is the desire not to flood the market and further depress pricing. Only when market equilibrium is restored, i.e. a balance is achieved where both sellers and buyers have roughly comparable bargaining power, will we see prices start to rise. Today, that is not the case – even for sellers with equity in their homes. While equity sales are faster than short sales, pricing is dictated by buyers’ perception of value, and value is based upon the most recent short sale or REO sale.
So, the vicious circle persists. In today’s world of residential real estate, it is a fact of life. The silver lining, however, is that most Realtors® are becoming much more adept – and less intimidated – by the process. They understand these new market dynamics and are learning to deal with the nuances of short sales and REOs. This is a very good thing, since it does, indeed, appear as if this will be the “new normal” for quite a while.
Short sales shot up 19 percent between the first and second quarters, with 102,407 transactions completed during the April-to-June period, according to RealtyTrac. Over the same timeframe, a total of 162,680 bank-owned REO homes sold to third parties, virtually unchanged from the first quarter.
RealtyTrac’s study also found that the average time to complete a short sale is down, while the time it takes to sell an REO has increased.
Pre-foreclosure short sales took an average of 245 days to sell after receiving the initial foreclosure notice during the second quarter, RealtyTrac says. That’s down from an average of 256 days in the first quarter and follows three straight quarters in which the sales cycle has increased.
REOs that sold in the second quarter took an average of 178 days to sell after the foreclosure process was completed, which itself has been lengthening across the country. The REO sales cycle in Q2 increased slightly from 176 days in the first quarter, and is up from 164 days in the second quarter of 2010.
Discounts on both short sales and REOs increased last quarter, according to RealtyTrac’s study, but homes sold pre-foreclosure carried less of a markdown when compared to non-distressed homes.
Sales of homes in default or scheduled for auction prior to the completion of foreclosure had an average sales price nationwide of $192,129, a discount of 21 percent below the average sales price of non-foreclosure homes. The short sale price-cut is up from a 17 percent discount in the previous quarter and a 14 percent discount in the second quarter of 2010.
Nationally, REOs had an average sales price of $145,211, a discount of nearly 40 percent below the average sales price of non-distressed homes. The REO discount was 36 percent in the previous quarter and 34 percent in the second quarter of 2010.
Commenting on the latest short sale stats in particular, James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s CEO, said, “The jump in pre-foreclosure sales volume coupled with bigger discounts…and a shorter average time to sell…all point to a housing market that is starting to focus on more efficiently clearing distressed inventory through more streamlined short sales.”
Saccacio says short sales “give lenders the opportunity to more pre-emptively purge non-performing loans from their portfolios and avoid the long, costly and increasingly messy process of foreclosure and the subsequent sale of an REO.”
Together, REOs and short sales accounted for 31 percent of all U.S. residential sales in the second quarter, RealtyTrac reports. That’s down from nearly 36 percent of all sales in the first quarter but up from 24 percent of all sales in the second quarter of 2010.
States with the highest percentage of foreclosure-related sales – REOs and short sales – in the second quarter include Nevada (65%), Arizona (57%), California (51%), Michigan (41%), and Georgia (38%).
States where foreclosure-related sales increased more than 30 percent between the first and second quarters include Delaware (33%), Wyoming (32%), and Iowa (30%).