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Some advice on tricky short sale process

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POSTED April 3, 2009 5:45 a.m.
Sometimes I feel like I am living in the real estate twilight zone, you know?

I mean, some of us old timers helped invent short sales about 15 years ago and I have been completely focusing on short sales for the past three years or more. In that time, I have closed well over 50 of them and have almost 30 in escrow right now. In case you don’t know...that’s a lot!!

Now, suddenly, after years of developing systems and standards to help sellers through this short sale madness, I see newspapers, TV news, brokers, trainers, and agents going around in a “chicken little” fashion screaming, “SHORT SALE; THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE!!” (wow! what a concept)  “SHORT SALES ARE WHERE IT’S AT TODAY!”(brilliant! well, look who just woke up!), “CALL ME!  I’M THE SHORT SALE KING” (after a 4 hour class by someone who’s never really done a short sale?...I doubt it)!

I gotta be honest....it makes my blood boil,  because people already in hardship are being taken advantage of and in some cases forced into foreclosure because incompetence (intentional or not) can ruin your chances of survival in this market.

So, as a consumer, a seller who needs help in this challenging process, how can you choose the right agent to work with? The answer: DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Listen, if you think you should consider a short sale or some form of loan modification, don’t hire anyone and especially don’t give anyone any money without asking them these questions and getting the right answers:

• 1. How many short sales/loan mods have you actually closed in the past 18 months (not your company or office...you, personally)?

• 2. Can you prove that? (make them)

• 3. Do you have a team to help you? (if no, run away like your hair is on fire)

• 4. What is your success ratio? (what % do you close?)

 BEWARE: no one closes 100% unless they’ve only done one...get it?

Ask like this, “how many did you attempt; how many of those closed”
• 5. Of those that didn’t close, why didn’t they close?

• 6. Do you charge a fee in addition to the commission? (fee =professional=you get what you pay for...BEWARE OF SCAMS, however)

• 7. Do you have references? Can I speak to people you have worked for in the past?

• 8. What is your system, your step by step procedure?

• 9. Do you guarantee success? (if they say yes...run)

WARNING! WARNING! Loan modifications almost never (less than 1/10th of 1% nationwide) end in loan amounts being reduced...if someone promises you that...well, they can’t! That said, reducing interest rates, reducing monthly payments works really well. You’ll still owe the same amount at the end and that’s fine. Just don’t expect the mortgage reduction and don’t believe anyone who promises you one.

Are the short sales easy? Anything but!

Are they getting quicker and easier? Depends on the day, the bank, the negotiator....but once in awhile...a great while...sort of Can any agent try one? YES.

Can any agent close one? NO (CAR agent success rate 17%)

Can you hire your brother, cousin, friend agent to do one for you for free? Yes. Should you? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

Like interviewing any professional you may hire; a doctor, an attorney, a contractor...get a second opinion! Talk to people who have used them in the past. Google them, check with the BBB, whatever it takes.

My last bit of real estate doctor advice today.... don’t wait to get help! This epidemic is not going away this year and pretending that it will definitely be detrimental to your health...in a “housing” sense of the word. THERE IS HOPE...LOTS OF HOPE. There are excellent sources and professional agents out there who work hard, do a good job, have experience and know-how, and are proactively waiting to help you. FIND ONE! Use the questions above, call me for a second opinion if you’d like, be smart! Working with the right people, there’s almost nothing we can’t cure these days. Be well.

Listen to “House Calls” with Christine Saturdays at 10AM on KFIV 1360AM www.therealestatedr.net
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