Short Sale Abuse

March 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Short Sales Stories

abuse of short saleUnfortunately, there are people who will try to take advantage of other people’s misery in a real estate short sale. I get emails daily by “coaches” who want to sell me a program of how to short sale a home in order to make money off shorts sales in a manner that I find distasteful. This is not the kind of Realtor training that I want to be involved in.

The schemes have two basic approaches for the property for sale, one by using an option to purchase and another using a trust. Basically, they start by teaching their students to find people in trouble with houses for sale, then put those people in even more trouble. I do not think it is right to do that to one of my neighbors in Raleigh, or anywhere in North Carolina.

The student is supposed to approach someone selling a home who needs to short sale their home and tie up the property using an option or a trust agreement. In other words, the student looks for a MLS listing that should sell for $200,000 and makes an offer of $160,000 to a family that is desperate to sell. Using the option, the student pays as little as one dollar to have the option to purchase the home, and gets the owner to sign the contract. Remember, this is an option to purchase, not a promise to purchase for a traditional sale.

The student submits a short sale package to the lender, saying that they are paying a reasonable price. At the same time, the student puts the home back on the market, tries selling the home for $200,000 or more. If the student can get the mortgage loss mitigation department to take a short payment based on the price of $160,000 and if the student can find another buyer to pay $200,000, then the student exercises the option, buys the property and immediately resells it for a profit. In short, the holder of the mortgage does not get the payoff it deserves, the property owner does not get to the equity they deserve, and the student takes the money that should be paid on the home mortgage. In stead of loss mitigation, this is loss maximization for the lenders who make mortgage loans.

So, what is wrong with that? If all the other parties are willing to let the student take advantage of them, why shouldn’t the student profit?

Lets analyze a completed sale first. The student is telling the holder of the home loan that they are paying off as much as possible of the loan on the home. Also, the student may be leaving the people with homes for sale with the obligation to pay the balance of the money that is not paid on the home mortgage. The owner of the home may also have an obligation to pay income tax on the amount that the payment to the bank is “short”.

After the sale closes, there will be some mortgage lender that will take a simple look at the tax records and see that the home sold for much more than the lender saw on the HUD-1 or closing statement. Then, the mortgage lender will get its lawyers to work to recover the ill gotten gains, as well as any other damages they can claim. The government prosecutors may get involved to teach the student what happens when you mislead institutions that make home loans.

Next, let’s analyze sales that do not close. In today’s market, a well priced home sells, an overpriced home does not sell. When the student raises the price to try to make a profit, the chance that the home will sell decreases dramatically. The family that owns the home is expecting a normal home buying experience, possibly hoping to stop foreclosure when the student buys the home. That family gets an education on the difference between an option and a sales promise when the property does not sell. When the student does not get another buyer to pay an inflated price, the student leaves the option money behind and does not buy the home. In many of these schemes, the option money is one dollar. So, the family does not get to stop foreclosure, they get to endure a foreclosure sale, and have one dollar for all the heartache they went through. Also, America gets more foreclosure homes.

I have a hard time with teachers who tell students to find people who are begging for a life preserver to keep them afloat. Then, they teach the student to throw them an anchor that is disguised as a life preserver that will drag them under. These teachers have stories about a few of their students who have made large amounts of money taking advantage of uneducated sellers and mortgage lenders that are so desperate for cash that they will approve a low short sale. This is not how you do a real estate short sale, this is how your increase your chance of a foreclosure. We should provide Realtor training to prevent foreclosures.

When someone approaches you with a scheme like this, just remember “thou shalt not steal.”

HUD’s Preforeclosure Sales Program Avoids Foreclosure

HUDHousing and Urban Development (HUD) has a Preforeclosure Sales Program that will allow a homeowner in default on a HUD mortgage to prevent a foreclosure and sell a home, even if it results in a short sale. To read all the details of this program to avoid foreclosure, click here

The short summary of the program is that owners who are 31 days or more late on mortgage loan payments on certain loans related to HUD can contact HUD to start the process. They will fill out applications and get a Information/Disclosure form 90035 mailed from HUD. If the owner is approved for the program, they receive an Approval to Participate notice from HUD. The owner must then list the property with a Realtor, who is not a relative for an arms length real estate sales effort, including an MLS listing. This sales program gives the owner four months to get a contract to sell the short sale home, and the sale must close within 6 months of when the owner is accepted into the program (or 8 months with special qualification) . During that time, the home mortgage lender will stop foreclosure.

As a part of selling a home using this program, the owner will need to get an FHA approved appraisal to establish an “as-is” value. Then, the owner can place the property for sale, sell for less than the appraised value. and use the proceeds to pay as much as possible on the home loans. The amount of the allowed sales price goes down as time goes on. During the first 30 days on the market, the sales price has to be at least 88% of the appraised value. In the next 30 days, the sales price can be at least 86%, and for the rest of the program it has to be at least 84% of the appraised “as is” value. This approved sales price creates a quick form of mortgage loss mitigation, as the loss mitigation department should give a quick approval to any offer that meets these guidelines.

As a part of the sales program, the owner may receive some portion of the sales proceeds, which is extremely unusual for short sales because the seller is typically required to walk away with nothing. If the home sale is closed within 3 months, the incentive is $1,000 and it decreases to $750 after that. The program has an additional $1,500 that can be used to pay off any junior mortgage loans after the incentive payment is applied, i.e. to pay off a second trust deed loan or a home equity loan.

The program allows the seller to pay up to 1% of the sales price as a payment toward the buyer’s closing costs which is also unusual for short sales. In order to encourage good marketing, this program to prevent a foreclosure sale allows a real estate commission of up to 6% of the sales price, which is consistent with the new Fannie Mae policy on reasonable commissions in real estate short sales.

This program applies only to owner occupied homes for sale. If it is an investment property, or a property abandoned by the owner, those houses for sale do not qualify.

For homes that qualify under the Preforeclosure Sales Program with home loans associated with HUD , you can do a sale that is up to 16% below the appraised value and those proceeds will be approved to satisfy the HUD related mortgage loans. There is no restriction on how short the payment is in comparison to the mortgage balance, just a limit on how low the price can be in relation to the appraised value. So, if the mortgage balance is above the appraised value, the sale could be well over 16% “short”. In other words, you can get this short sale approved easily by the loss mitigation department if you comply with the procedural requirements established by HUD.

This program is a little know part of the Realtor training of how to short sale a home, but it decreases the number of foreclosed homes and gives the buyer a smooth home buying experience.

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