The first would never put anything in writing; I had to constantly call them to get an update and was treated as though I had a lot of nerve to be asking them for a status report. This from a well known name in real estate so I felt they would know what to do. Did not work out.
The second was a firm that was recommended and had an attorney on staff - or so I thought. Some of the issues that came up made it clear they were not comfortable with their legal status either. I ended up closing 2 of the 3 I attempted to run through them. They were very good at written online communication on the first and second deal but started to fall apart on the 3rd.
During this "Training Period" above and since I have taken many short sale classes and am now doing them myself.
I would rather NOT do the negotiations myself but until all the legal issues are ironed out about who pays the negotiation fees, who is represented if they pay the fee, and who is allowed to pay the fees I will keep doing them myself. I just pray the length of time the bank has to respond will get shorter so we can do the work we really need to do without the excess paperwork and phone tag babysitting we are caught up in now.
Additionally, good short sale negotiators with some time in the saddle have valuable contacts formed over years of working with the lenders. These are critical.
In a recent short sale, had a lawyer firm and a short sale negotiator with 9 years of experience on our side. We negotiated a price at 88% of fair market value (FMV), at least based on the Broker Price Opinion's estimate of FMV.
This left us with enough "slack" for our buyer to pay $150,000 of the seller's back IRS and CA taxes, the short sale negotiation fees, and unpaid HOA fees (all of which would have remained a seller liability after foreclosure).
In the end, the total price to the buyer was $1, 430,000, still $70,000 under FMV of $1.5MM.
I doubt that the typical agent would have been able to handle this without experienced help.
I certainly don't have 9 years of experience with short sales, and neither did the cooperating agent.
I think ALL our clients were well-served by having experienced experts handling this part of the negotiations.
One of them gave up when we couldn't get the second lien holder to bend. I couldn't give up because the short sale is for my friends. Between the seller and me making follow up calls. I was able to pull this through. Thank goodness we had a patient buyer.
Another short sale had 2 lenders. The negotiator tried to negotiate the loan. Second lien holder was Washington Mutual who wouldn't bend. She couldn't make it work. Bank foreclosed.
In both situations, it was still up to me to collect all the documents from the all parties, and then give them to the negotiator. THAT to me was the most time consuming and stressful part of the negotiation. If the third negotiators can do that part of it, then I'll let them handle it. But they don't. They expect YOU to give them all the paperwork, neatly filled in, all i's dotted and t's crossed.
So I think I'll wait....until a better plan comes along.