By Darryl Davis
RISMEDIA, August 18, 2008-According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, every three months, 250,000 new families enter into foreclosure. One child in every classroom in America is at risk of losing his or her home because their parents are unable to pay the mortgage. One out of every 200 homes will be foreclosed upon. These statistics may be alarming, but they are the reality in today’s market. Fortunately, there is a win-win solution for all parties involved: the homeowner, the bank and the real estate agent.
The recent decline in property values has created many challenges for real estate agents and homeowners alike, but a “Short Sale” could be the key to a happy ending. One of the biggest misconceptions about short sales is that they are difficult and not profitable. As a result, many agents avoid them. In fact, while a short sale does indeed help a homeowner tremendously, it is also highly beneficial for the real estate agent: it creates opportunity for an increased listing inventory, generates a higher commission than normal transactions, and most importantly, adds exceptional value to his/her service. The nationwide rise of defaulted mortgages and foreclosures is an opportunity for any real estate agent to play a part in easing the strain of the current housing market. After all, better market conditions benefit us all.
So, what is a short sale? A short sale is a loss mitigation solution. The easiest way to explain a short sale is this: when you go into a seller’s house and ask the magic question, “how much do you owe on your home?” the answer is more than what the current value of that home is. Very simply put, a short sale is when the value of the mortgage is greater than the value of the property.
It is said that 90% of homeowners do not understand the difference between a foreclosure and a short sale, and many agents wonder the same thing. A foreclosure is the process of the bank taking back ownership of a house due to the homeowner’s inability to pay their mortgage. The home is now an REO or bank-owned property, and the lender will sell it for the listed price. A short sale, on the other hand, is sold by the homeowner before a foreclosure takes place. The listing price is determined by broker price opinions, recent comps in the area and the condition of the home. And ultimately, in a short sale, the lender agrees to accept less payment than what is actually owed to them.
By definition, any homeowner that is two months late on their mortgage payment and can also demonstrate the inability to pay their mortgage would be considered a short sale candidate. The homeowner is considered pre-foreclosure when the bank officially sends a notice of default or a notice that they’re taking legal action against the homeowner to collect the debt. Contrary to what most agents believe, a short sale can still take place during the foreclosure process. There are only two reasons that a homeowner is not eligible for a short sale:
The foreclosure has already taken place and the home is up for auction
The homeowner files for bankruptcy
According to a recent Freddie Mac/Roper poll, more than six in 10 homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments are not aware of services available to them that would help their situation. Much of the population, and agents alike, are unaware of short sales and their process. A short sale is a win-win. It’s a win for the bank because, as an agent, you are helping them along their sales process and helping them recapture as much of this non-performing loan as possible. It’s a win for the seller because they’re going to be forgiven for a large portion of the money they owe and are saving their credit. It’s a win for buyers because they can obtain a property that is priced right. Finally, it’s a win for the agent because the ability to proceed with short sales creates new opportunity: more listings and more value to your repertoire! There will be a more detailed overview of the benefits of a short sale in part 2: The Benefits of Short Sales.
What’s more, stopping a foreclosure before it happens is in fact helping the economy and the real estate market. According to “Collateral Damage: The Municipal Impact of Today’s Mortgage Foreclosure Boom,” written by William C. Apgar and Mark Duda, just one foreclosure can result in as much as an additional $220,000 in reduced property value and home equity for nearby homes. In an already down market, any loss in home value is detrimental to everyone involved.
Another reason a short sale is a better option than foreclosure is because it saves the seller’s credit from being damaged. A foreclosure can drop a homeowner’s credit score by 300 points or more. A short sale will affect a homeowner’s credit score by 80 to 100 points on the average. It reads on your credit report as a paid lien or paid judgment, and is much easier and quicker to repair than a bankruptcy or foreclosure.
According to RealtyTrac Inc., home foreclosure filings more than doubled in the second quarter of 2008 from a year ago. They also stated that nationwide, 739,714 households - one in every 171 - received at least one foreclosure-related notice from April to June, as soft housing sales, declining home values, tighter lending standards and a sluggish U.S. economy left many homeowners with few options. With a forecast for even more foreclosures pressing upon us, it’s imperative that real estate professionals become savvy in the short sale process if they are to maintain a lucrative business in today’s market. Keep an eye out for our second part to this five-part series on short sales-The Benefits of Short