Short Sales Help in Plain Language

By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

Since the beginning of the short-sale problem, NAR members have been seeking plain-language, common-sense tips for dealing with these difficult transactions. We tried to help fill the information gap earlier this year with two free webinars, one in March and one in May, with Scott Thompson, a short-sale specialist who shared his ideas in a way that seemed to resonate with our members. The last time I checked, just under 39,000 of you either attended, viewed, or downloaded the two webinars. They were also incorporated into NAR’s new Short Sales and Foreclosures Resource Certification (SFR) curriculum.

Lynn Madison

Lynn Madison

The tips Thomson shared still apply today because he talks about industry best practices that remain constant. But the short-sale environment is nevertheless evolving, so we’re hosting a third webinar, called Today’s Changing Short-Sale Environment, and you might consider spending an hour to attend it on Dec. 10 if you’re looking for more help with these transactions. It’s at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. What has changed? First, lenders have been refining their processes for the past year and a half, so we need to know how their processes are different today. Ideally, we would talk to all the major lenders but that’s not practical. So, we’re doing the next best thing. We’re having Dave Sunlin of Bank of America Home Loans, a sponsor of several of our webinars, talk to us about what his company is doing on short sales. Dave is senior vice president at the lender and in putting together the Webinar we learned that BofA is rolling out a technology platform for short sales.

Not having seen the platform I can’t say anything about it, but at the very least it holds out the promise of helping servicers process short sales more systematically. I expect it’ll take a while for BofA to iron things out after servicers have had a chance to use the platform for a period of time. It’ll be interesting to see if processing is in fact quicker and more predictable.

The other speaker is Lynn Madison, a veteran real estate broker who now spends much of her time as a real estate training specialist. She helped develop the curriculum for NAR’s new SFR certification and she knows short sales as well as anyone. I had the pleasure of attending a short-sales seminar she hosted at the 2009 NAR Conferece in San Diego last week and it was probably one of the most information-rich 90 minutes I have ever spent at a conference. I posted a brief write-up of her session, which focused on the buyer side of short sales, right after the session. If you want to get a taste of the breadth and depth of her tips, this post might help. It’s hard not to be impressed with her command of the nuances of real estate transactions.

What else has changed on the short-sale front? Well, since we hosted the first webinar, the Obama adminstration has said it will release guidelines to help standardize processing, but the guidelines have yet to be released. Nevertheless, as Sunlin told us, lenders like B0fA are eagerly awaiting the administration’s input. We’re hoping the guidelines will be out before Dec. 10, our Webinar date, so we can offer to Sunlin and Madison the chance to talk about them.

Register now for Today’s Changing Short-Sale Environment. It’s free and takes place at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, Dec. 10.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is director of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at

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  1. I can say something about BofA’s new short sale technology platform. We’ve had an approval for a short sale for over a week that we cannot even see because BofA wants us to access it through that platform (REOTrans), yet they have not properly set us up to access it. Nor are we able to get any one to correct the situation. This after waiting for months for the file to even be processed in the first place. Trying to keep a deal together is not easy.

  2. I can relate to Maureens comment about BofA. I’ve been working with 7 different loss mitigators for over 12 months on 4 different offers submitted on my listing. To make a looooong story short, the last offer was $250K cash which was rejected by BofA with no counter. They just foreclosed on the home this morning for $273K. A full year of work for absolutley NOTHING. I’d be very interested to see BofA’s new program and the people they have running it. From what I get from Maureens comment, sounds like they previously worked in the loss mitigation department…!!! Great job BofA and good luck…!!!

  3. Terry McCarley

    Bank of America has had a complete package since June 9, 2009 and all I have gotten is the run around – a different answer everytime I call. I heard about the reotrans set up from another local agent and logged on the site as I have been part of reotrans for over 2 years and couldn’t find anything at all about Bank of America on the site. I am getting written bank approvals from other banks in as little as 2 weeks so I am at a total loss as to what is going on at Bank of America. They are losing a fortune letting these short sales fall apart!

  4. Steve Tutt

    Maybe the new platform will help BofA make that quantum leap into the 20th century with regard to distressed properties.

  5. I’ve had an offer on a condo since May 2009 that is a short sale with BOA.,,,,6 months later I finally received a counter offer that is 3400 more than the offer of 70k. My buyer client rejected it. My understanding is they will now foreclose. I am sure they will only loose more at foreclosure considering the cost involved in the process. The most recent sales have been between 65k and 72k in there….it doesn’t make sense to me.

  6. Carlos Maldonado

    I had sold my house on a short sale contract, do I qualify for the credit, I had lived in my home for for 9 years.

  7. Linda K.

    Please, Bank of America improved yourself. You have caused me a lot of stress. Why did it take from June to October to go to phase 2 and now from October to November 18th still nothing. And this is just from one deal. I have others with you and all problems. It take months to get a response and then I have to hurry or the file will be closed. ????

    Please get it together.

  8. DreamGreen Realty

    Carlos, you may qualify for the repeat buyer credit of $6500 depending upon the residency dates you had. The official wording is “5 of the last 8 years”. Check out more here:

  9. Grrrr!

    BofA- yeah, I have to agree with everyone else what a mistake… I had a 110k offer they messed around with and after it went to sale they listed it at 70k- yeah it’s pending now but they won’t get much over that since financing would be a mini nightmare to overcome $70k list price. Nobody seems to care enough to put a bucket under this running water nightmare and stop the wholesaling of America.

  10. Yes I am really interested in what changes BOA will be making to improve their Short Sale process. I have been working on a Short Sale listing since June22,2009, until now it has been a Nightmare. I communicated with the bank by either phone call or email everyday without any response from Negotiator, called her upper management they also refused to respond Deliberately. Had to call the President of BOA office to get a little result in that they moved the file to another negotiator who seemed to be working on file, but then everything went to a hault again, then it took a month to finally find out that the new negotiator returned file back to the 1st incompetent negotiator because she was unable to work with the investor for our file. Tried to endure 1st Negotiator for an additonal 2 weeks, but once again no response, so lost buyer, fortunately i was able to submit a back up offer trying to keep deal alive, as well as stop home from being forclosed because there was a sale date for home. Once again i went back thru the President of BOA office, getting the file moved again to another Negotiator,& pushing Negotiator to stop Foreclosure 2 days before Sale Date.Now just remember everytime the file move the process starts over, & you will be asked for all the paper work you’ve already turned in to the last few negotiators.Which means theres no communication between BOA co workers which is sad & no reourse for bad behavior of BOA employees, we as the Realtors, Sellers, & Buyers are solely @ the banks discretion. However this negotiator i’m currently working with seem to be moving file along, after a week of continuous emails from me the Listing agent & the Buyers agent & phone calls, finally i got an update on 11/30 that we were in phase 2 & she would try to get it moved to the next phase by this week, dont contact her she will notify me. Well i received an email from Negotiator yesterday 12/3/2009 that it has been moved to next phase & i should hear from new negotiator with accept or decline. Well all the work & time put in i know BOA cannot even consider declining. For all those Banks not wanting to pay @ least the minimum of 6% to Realtors for all the hours & work involved saving the deal is ridiculous, because if & when you get to the closing table, when we add up the work & time involved we are working for way less than minimum wages, how Horrible!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish the best to all Realtors who are working with a short sale with BOA. And i pray my deal goes thru. I will definitely attend webinar.

  11. Margaret Bonura

    I have been working on short sales with BofA and today one of the short sales went to foreclosure sale. I have been on the telephone for hours trying to get someone to listen and to care( instead I am given telephone numbers that ring forever and nobody ever answers.) I also received a call from another agent that he had a listing and working for months to get a short sale approved. One of the names on the DoT is a service member in Iraq when we pulled the Servicemenbers Civil Relief Act and he faxed and emailed to them they did not care. That property went to foreclosure today it is not that we didn’t try to save them we have worked long hours on all these short sale requests to get nowhere, it is so very sad for our sellers. Somebody needs to care that if seller their clients can’t reach someone in their Loan Servicing Dept they are not getting the same chance that other seller’s get with other mortgage companies that are reviewing requests for short sales and approving some of them. So if you have a loan with BofA you don’t get the same rights that other home owners get with other mortgage companies???As a Realtor, tax payer and homeowner I think that allowing all these properties to go to foreclosure and stay vacant and get sold for less most of the time is not good for any of us. I think that BofA needs to change their attitude and the way they do business that is my opinion.

  12. Okay, I’m laughing. Having Bank of America sponsor NAR events about short sales is like having the local fox sell tickets to the next hen convention! Please! BofA is the poster child for bad behavior when it comes to processing short sales. Is this some sort of penance they’re doing? Of course, it’s harder to openly criticize someone who’s giving you money, isn’t it. NAR needs to rethink who sponsors anything with them unless the sponsorship includes a “Consumers Bill of Rights” signed off on by B of A and stating they will respond to written offers within 10 days of receipt, pay Realtors commissions, not let the foreclosure process outrun the short sale process, you know, little things like that.

  13. We have been getting the runaround from BofA for so long I’ve forgotten the exact months. They refused to speak with us at all unless we were 3 months in default. Now, in trying to fill out their forms for a short sale, you can’t read the small print, it won’t let you “save and come back later” and it won’t let you print some of the pages. I have tried to print the “Help” page numerous times to no avail and can’t even send to my own E-Mail. Someone really needs to fix this disaster.

    If there is a class action lawsuit against BofA, count me in!!!

  14. RANDY

    My son put a offer in on a short sale house. We were told that the Bank is working with the home owner to sell the house. They were losing it for medical bills. My son offered to pay the asking price of $150,000. He has a signed purchase agreement from the home owner. We were told that the bank had it appraised the house before they listed it.

    So after 4 months and a week left in the eight thousand dollar credit first home buyer and suppose to close on the 30Th of this month. It is now the 23rd. they said that a new appraisal came in over $180,000 that they want 173,000.

    We did a market of the area and can not figure where they got the figure from.

    We asked for a copy of the appraisal to see what they are talking about. We are waiting for that. Then we asked for a copy of the counter offer, to me is not a counter offer due to the fact he has a signed agreement already. We were told that the counter offers are not put in writing until all parties agree. But this is a Bank shouldn’t they have to do paper work? How dose my son know what the bank is doing or is the other realitor have another buyer.

  15. Joyce Owens

    BOA finally “approved” a short sale . . . but they changed all of the conditions. They are not a party to the contract – they should either approve it or foreclose. They also reduced the broker fees. I won’t be doing any more business with BOA. They don’t want our help. they want to hold us hostage and then make up new rules. I agree with the comment above about BOA sponsoring NAR events – fox in the chicken coop, indeed! P.S. Why did NAR let the HAFA go through with the wording “up to 6% brokerage fee”? That just gave lenders the go ahead to reduce the fee. We work too hard to give our pay away. Bye bye BOA.

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