Find The Loss Mitigation Department
The key to working with the bank is to find the right department, then understand how to work with them.
There are a number of different departments within the bank. The Customer Service Department is designed to get you to the right place for your particular problem. As long as they take the time to understand what you want, they are a resource that will get you to the right people. To understand where you might be misdirected, here are the departments that you do not want. The Collections department is to get money out of the borrower, maybe get the account current or get it foreclosed and out of the system. The Bankruptcy department deals with loans that are in bankruptcy, typically seeking to get the properties removed from the protection of the bankruptcy stay. The Foreclosure department is to march directly to the foreclosure sale with minimal distractions, typically providing the borrower only with the amount necessary to fully reinstate the loan or the amoun for a full payoff of the loan.
What you want is the Loss Mitigation department designed to lessen the loss to the bank primarily by facilitating short sales. To understand the difference, members of the collection department get bonuses for getting money paid on the loan or for getting money recovered through foreclosure. Members of the loss mitigation department get bonuses from completing a short sale and recovering money for the bank through the closing of the sale.
Do they publish the phone numbers for the loss mitigation department? No.
So, how do you get there. Here is a link to a blog that has a list of contact information for the loss mitigation department of some lenders: http://tinyurl.com/bboput. You can also check another list by clicking here. But you need to know how to find the loss mitigation department in any financial institution.
Most people would look on their mortgage statement from the bank. If you are behind on your payments, do not call the phone number on the mortgage statement, because it is the collections department. They will try to get some kind of payment, and they are under extreme time pressure in their call, as most of them are timed for how long they are on each call. If they tranfer you to loss mitigation, some firms give the collector a black mark. Find an old loan statement from when the payments were on time because the number on that statement will get you to customer service department. Get them to transfer you to the loss mitigation department.
When you call loss mitigation, you will typically get a gate keeper who can give you some preliminary information. Some of the departments will tell you what you need in the short sale package. Others will send you a form with that information. Still others have that information online. Get that information as soon as you can, because you want to tailor your package to their requirements. They review hundreds of packages, so if you put your information in a format that is easy for them to review, you will get a better reception form the negotiator.
Most loss mitigation departments will not deal with you in any significant way unless you have an offer. Once you have an offer, submit it in the manner we describe in the Step by Step guide. Then, start calling loss mitigation about once a week to see that it moves along. When your package gets to a negotiator, see what you can do to make that negotiators decision easy. Provide everything they request in the format that they want as quickly as possible.
Communicating with some loss mitigation departments is extremely hard. When you call the Countrywide loss mitigation number, and go through the prompts, more than half the time you will be transferred to collections. They will try to tell you it is the same thing, while they are asking what you can do to get the seller to bring the account current and suggest you call HUD to learn about how to reinstate the loan. You just need to learn to smile at their claim that they are the same.
So you try email. Countrywide has a system coming out of their merger with Bank of America to send secure emails, where you need a password. That sounds simple enough. However, on many occasions the system will not let you get to the message even if you get the password emailed to you and you copy and paste the password into their system. In other words, you can enter it perfectly and not get the message. So, you send a regular email to the negotiator. Many negotiators will not respond to regular emails. So they get mad that you did not get their message. So, you call and leave a voice mail. Most negotiators will respond to a voice mail one to two days later. If you are not immediately available to answer their call, you will get a message. So, you return the call, get their voice mail, you leave a message and it could be another two days.
Another example is Bank of America. They get between 500 and 1,000 short sale packages a day. So, the negotiators do not have time to talk to you at all. You communicate by the cover sheet on the fax or the documents in the package. So, if you have a message for the negotiator, put it in the fax cover sheet or a letter on top of the package.
What is the solution? Creativity! Most Realtors are good finding a way to get in touch. With Citibank, I found that the gatekeepers (i.e. the first line of defense in the phone system) had access to the loss mitigation negotiator’s files. So, when I wanted to find out what was happening, I called so often that I got to be on a friendly basis with a few gatekeepers. They would read me the notes in the files.
Keep on calling. Many loss mitigation departments will not contact you with the resutls of their review. I found out that Countrywide had rejected one of my short sale applications six days earlier when I made my weekly call. They did not give a counter offer, just a rejection, so I got the buyer to increase the proposed price and submitted that offer. In other words, you have to be the one who communicates, because they do not have time to get messages to you.
Even though communication with loss mitigation is difficult, it is far better than any of your other choices because the purpose of the loss mitigation department is to get the short sale reviewed and possibly approved. Learn patience and the ability to hold your temper when you get transfered a dozen times or disconnected just when you are getting to the right person. If you make the negotiator mad, you will get an approval that you can never perform. So, once again, the relationship is all up to you.
Realtors are good at communication, so just take this as an opportunity to improve your skills.