Are You Sidestepping Short Sales?

The key to getting short sales done is proper training.

August 1, 2008

In REALTOR® magazine's blog this month, I wrote about a conversation I’d had with Phoenix short-sale specialist Jane Brunet. She’s frustrated because buyer’s representatives in her area aren’t willing to participate in short-sale transactions. Her ire is focused mainly at banks. They make the process so arduous, she says, it’s no wonder salespeople turn the other way when they see a short sale.

Brunet says the key to getting short sales done is proper training. And a few readers commenting on the post agreed, but most said they won’t bother. Here are excerpts from reader comments:

  • “Most buyers have a 45- to 60-day time frame—so the average 90-day period of these sales makes them unreasonable for the consumer.”
  • “A speaker at a short-sale seminar I attended said 80 percent of all offers on short-sale listings do not result in a closed escrow. Combine that with an escrow of 90 days or more and the lack of cooperation from lenders, and you can see why most practitioners will avoid representing buyers in short sales.”
  • “Short sales are a huge opportunity now, and most agents are missing the boat entirely. Agents need to key into what investors are learning—how to successfully navigate the short sale transaction.”
  • “Why would we want to show a short-sale listing? Lenders will not guarantee payment to the brokers of the commissions offered in the listings, and it’s likely that these transactions will be both lengthy and frustrating. Non-distressed properties now are priced competitively with short-sales and REOs, the commissions on those listings are guaranteed, and the sales are likely to entail less work, less frustration, and less time to close.”
  • “Lenders will not reduce their inventories of short-sale properties unless they guarantee commissions—perhaps even offer higher commissions in consideration of the extra time, effort, and risk involved—and assign officers for each property who are capable of responding rapidly and have the ­authority to accept, reject, or counter offers.”

Clearly, this is a hot button topic. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has addressed one aspect of the problem with a new MLS policy on disclosing short sales in MLS comments (see “Coming Up Short” and “Disclosing Distress”). But the policy won’t do anything to make lenders more responsive. For that, one letter-writer recommended organizing a panel discussion that opens a dialogue with local lenders. Great idea.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is director of content strategy for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor-in-chief of REALTOR® Magazine. In addition, she oversees the quarterly REALTOR® Association Executive magazine and manages a variety of e-communications for REALTORS® and REALTOR® association executives. She has been with the NAR for more 30 years, starting as an associate editor with Real Estate Today magazine, where she covered sales and finance topics.