By Stacey Moncrieff, Editor in Chief, REALTOR® Magazine
The more I learn about short sales, I told Scott Thompson yesterday, the more complex they seem. That’s pretty much par for the course, according to Scott, whose company, Mortgage Resolution Services of Sacramento, works on short sales every day.
Scott and I were having breakfast yesterday, preparing for our second short sales webinar. The first, in March, enjoyed an enormous response. Besides the thousands who joined the call, more than 14,000 people have either played back the session or downloaded it.
Yesterday’s session was a bit of a free-for-all. We fashioned it as a way to answer the questions we couldn’t get to in the first session. Some of the key points I took from Scott’s comments yesterday were:
- Second-home and investment short sales are possible. A lot of participants asked about this. Both second-home owners and investment property owners stand a chance of making a short sale work — as long as they’re upfront and honest about their situation. Scott talked about the importance of an effective hardship letter. It should include three elements:
- “Dear Lender: I’m sorry about this situation I find myself in.”
- “Here’s the modification or action I’m requesting.”
- “I’ve exhausted all other possibilities.”
Scott strenuously urged listeners yesterday to keep hardship letters to one page. Mortgage servicers are overworked and understaffed and probably won’t read a longer letter.
- Don’t be a flipper. Finding investors who want to flip short sales — or doing it yourself — might seem like a great business opportunity, but it probably doesn’t serve the seller or the lender well.
- Don’t take on liability unnecessarily. A lot of buyer’s agents sent questions asked whether they could contact the lender directly. Scott’s advice: Don’t go there. Yes, it’s possible to get authorization from the seller to contact the lender yourself, but it puts you on the line.
- Be very careful about calling yourself an expert. I don’t know if he said it explicitly during the session yesterday, but during our breakfast meeting, Scott expressed serious concern about real estate salespeople calling themselves “experts” in short sales. Yes, build your expertise — but advertise yourself as a “specialist,” he recommends. The rules and policies are changing so quickly, it’s difficulty for anyone to live up to the title of expert.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Scott on these webinars. He’s not only extremely hard working but also — with 20 years’ experience as a broker — extremely sensitive to the hard work that real estate practitioners are doing, sometimes for little pay, to close short sales.
Here’s a link to our Webinar page, where you can find a playback to the three webinars we’ve conducted, including both of our sessions with Scott. Don’t forget to sign up for our June 25 mortgage finance webinar, which will be hosted by REALTOR® Magazine’s resident expert, Senior Editor Robert Freedman.
And keep your short sales questions coming firstname.lastname@example.org. Scott’s company has agreed to do additional webinars for REALTOR® magazine to provide you timely guidance as government programs and lender policies on short sales evolve.