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Megan, Home Buyer in Atlanta, GA

An agent has a house for sale. I have put in an offer but they never give us any answers!! They say it's a

Asked by Megan, Atlanta, GA Thu Dec 20, 2007

short sale and they take a long time. It has been two months! Is this normal?

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18
Hi Megan,
While I am sure some short sales have taken months to complete the two that I have completed, in Atlanta area, in the last 6 months responded to first offers in less than 3 weeks. We did do our up front homework with the Seller and had our short sale package turned in prior to marketing as a short sale. This definitely made the process smoother and the timeline shorter. The first offers did not work out on both of these sales but additional offers had a response time of less that 5 business days after the first offer responses of 2+ weeks.

If you are two months into this and still don't have a reply I would consider moving on to identify another property that fits your criteria. You can still come back to this one if you get a reply in the mean time.

Regards,
Deryk
5 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Megan -

This may be an exercise in futility. The seller might be working other buyers than just you; there are a number of scenarios I can think of. Dealing with REOs, foreclosures and short sales is usually a miserable and aggrivating process as you can see.

Have your agent see if the seller will allow her to contact the decision maker at the lender. If that's a no go, maybe you can all conference call...anything to give you an idea if this deal is viable. Do you have earnest money tied up in this deal?

It might be time to cut bait, let the seller know that while you like the home you're not going to be a potted plant and just wait. She might be holding you in reserve and leveraging your offer against others - rattle her cage and see what happens.

Hank Miller, SRA, ABR
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
REMAX Greater Atlanta
678-428-8276
http://www.hrmiller.com
Web Reference: http://www.hrmiller.com
5 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Hi Megan,

I agree with most of the answers, short sales are rarely short. In your case I’d expect at least a courtesy update given to you through your agent. Surely they have some point of contact, common courtesy should apply. At this point though, it seems a bit protracted so you should take the initiative.

The reason these take so long is “decision by committee”; you have several hands in the mix as opposed to one deciding party. They have to evaluate the offer, determine and review the hit they will take, and consider if it’s better to either reject the offer and leave the home with the seller or move to foreclosure if it’s at that point and try to sell it on their own. Simply put, is it easier and better financially to cut bait with your offer or wind up with the home (and all debts) and try to sell it themselves.

Short sales can be very lucrative but they can also be extraordinarily frustrating. I’ve found success when we write a strong “position paper” with the offer – we detail to the lender why it’s in their best interest to execute the deal and move on. Short specific points with current data and trends will work wonders.

Get a hold of the agents and make some noise – tell them you want an update…the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and sometimes the house!

Good luck – let me know if you need anything.

Hank Miller, SRA, ABR
Associate Broker & Certified Appraiser
REMAX Greater Atlanta
678-428-8276
http://www.hrmiller.com
Web Reference: http://www.hrmiller.com
5 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Lee, actually an agent is allowed to discuss on behalf of the Seller the sale of the property with the bank. I have done it many times. It does however require that the Seller give the bank authorization to do so on the Seller's behalf.

Hope that helps in the future...
Web Reference: http://www.toddnorsted.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
I think that your transaction is dead. The Seller is more than likely incapable of taking the next step with you. Don't get emotionally attached to the outcome.

If you want to know more about short sale tactics and strategies, my friend owns and operates http://www.shortsaleheadquarters.com . They may even be able to help you. The website itself is very informative.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Megan,

Two months is getting a little long to wait for an answer.

Has your offer been accepted by the bank? In many short sale cases they will take many offers on a property and leave it on the market to get even more. Then the bank will decide which is the best offer and go with that one. If this is the case you should have been notified of a multiple offer situation.

Short sales can take a long time, but at this point I would start putting pressure on your agent to make weekly contact with the bank to see what the hold up is.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
This is unfortunate normal it could also take 3 and 4 months sometime. Have you thought about foreclosures? They move a lot faster and right now you can find great deals.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 17, 2008
Good morning Megan,
Short sales can be very frustrating.
We are currently working on a short sale. It has been about two months. We represent the seller and the seller has given us permission to speak to their mortgage company. We call at least twice a week to get an update. We are making progress and we are going to close but we are still waiting for the final approval. So don't give up. It's not necessarily dead. Ask your agent to call the seller/agent and keep trying to get an update from the bank.
Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
Megan - the situation gets more challenging! I agree it is frustrating waiting for an answer. Is the home worth a lot more than you have offered? A screaming deal and a quick response do not occur with short sales. If you have offered a lot less than the home is worth, you may want to sweeten your offer a tad subject to a timely response (I would give them a week). Do you and your agent believe the Seller/Listing agent is being totally forthcoming with all details - as the Seller/borrower, she should be able to speak with someone at the lender. Maybe the Seller has not gotten back to the lender with the info that the lender wants (probably bank statements/investment statements/tax returns/etc). Until that info is provided, the lender will not make a decision. As time progresses, one of two things will happen a) she will get a response, or b) the home will go into foreclosure and you will be able to then purchase it probably through a different listing agent.

My guess is you have no one with incentive to get this deal done quickly on the Seller's side other than the Seller who will end up with a foreclosure on her credit report if she doesn't get the deal done prior to the foreclosure completing. If you really want the house, then I would probably try to use the "carrot" approach rather than the "stick" because you have to convince the Seller/Listing agent to help you (during a difficult time in the Seller's life). Maybe the Listing agent/Seller would be amenable to authorizing your agent or her Managing Broker to make a call to the lender to understand the lender's position and then sharing that info with your agent just so you have someone else involved from the Seller's side.

You always have the option to walk away and if you don't want to do that, then time will eventually work for you because the home will probably end up owned by the lender. It will take patience but this deal is doable.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
I agree with the first answer - a recent short sale that I completed took over a month for the bank to respond - the lender is going to evaluate very closely whether the Seller really has no assets to pay for the difference before they are going to say yes to a short sale - although I do not think the lender will drag their feet deliberately, the lender is also hoping someone else will submit a better offer than yours while they are doing their research on the Seller. In today's market, there are Sellers who have a home that is worth less than the mortgage and even though they signed a contract to pay back the loan, the Seller is hoping to dump the home on the lender. If you were the lender, you would want to make sure the Seller really has no assets before accepting an offer that was less than what is owed.

I recently had a title company closer tell me that the longest short sale she has seen was 14 months (don't worry, most will not take that long) - as Realtors, we need to guide our Buyers that while a "short sale" home may be attractive to a Buyer, they are not for the Buyer that does not have a flexible current living situation (for example, renting on a month-to-month basis) because they will take longer and the lender does not care what "closing date" is put in the contract.

If that home is the best home for you, then I would make sure through your Realtor that the listing Realtor is making contact frequently with the lender (a minimum of once per week) and be patient - the lender has no obligation to you or the Seller to move quickly on the file. I would continue to look for other possible homes and let the listing Realtor know that you are doing so (hopefully you have a clause that allows you to terminate the contract for the "short sale" home if you find another suitable home while the lender is deciding what to do).

Additionally, for you and others who might be comtemplating a "short sale purchase", please make sure that all of the dates for completing tasks (like the inspection) go into effect after the lender has agreed in writing to the proposed offer because you as the Buyer do not want to be spending money until you have greater confort that the house will actually change possession - this can be accomplished through an amendment if necessary. Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Megan -
ahhh... the short sale.
To be absolutely clear, it is called a short sale because of the amount of MONEY the bank will accept, and not the amount of TIME it takes to do the deal.

Additionally, only the seller (who is facing foreclosure) can deal with the bank on determining the final amount to accept. An agent is not allowed to discuss this part with the bank. You can imagine an owner might be a little reluctant to call up the bank and chat about how much money they don't have. Once the owner and the bank have agreement, the bank will furnish a letter acepting that amount, THEN the owner can accept or decline your offer based on if it lines up with what the bank will accept. Just an FYI, the owner will still pay taxes (as income) on the difference of what they owe and what you end up paying to the bank.

Also, be mindful of keeping your offer "clean" and not asking for a bunch of closing costs - and don't expect to get any repairs upon inspection. You agent can help you define a "clean" offer for the particular situation.

It is best for your agent and the listing agent to just keep in touch and be sure the listing agent is reminding the seller to get in touch.

The "good" news is - if it's been two months, it may be already going into foreclosure and you can make an offer directly to the bank once that happens (It makes me a little ill to say it's "good," but for purposes of purchasing it, I guess it is). Just be sure your agent is keeping an eye on the property.

Good luck to you!!
Web Reference: http://www.leeadkins.net
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Ask your Real Estate Agent when the last time they spoke with the bank?
Web Reference: http://lantierrealty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Yes, it certainly can be. Short sales must be approved by the lender, since the lender is being asked to accept less than what's owed. Short sales can be very frustrating, and they're very time consuming for Realtors (or investors, who also do short sales, though a bit differently). Make sure your agent is staying in contact with the lender regularly, and be patient.

Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
MVP'08
Contact
It has been my experience, as an exclusive buyers agent, that not all offers are submitted with all the attatched documents. Reason: The listing agent has a lower offer but will double, yes double, his or her commission if they forget some or all of the offer. This is the real world. Agents are not allowed to contact the seller (bank if forclosed) to check.
Solution; some banks require that the offers are presented by the selling agent on their web site. Smart! Many do not.
The buyer(s) may call loss mitigation dept to make sure the offer is presented. Put notification in offer. I.E. "Should this offer not result in a contract, Buyer(s) shall check with bank to verify receipt."
If the bank finds out offers are not submitted by their listing agent, the agent will lose all listings.
It is a shame a very few ruin it for all.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 7, 2010
Megan,

Seasons Greetings from Central Florida.

Unfortunately, 2 months is becoming the norm because Banks are being flooded with requests for Short Sales. There are dozens of other reasons why an agent isn't getting you the answers you want, but if you truly have a REAL short sale opportunity; then you want to see the letter from the bank(s) for the exact amount of money the bank needs and the time deadline they want it by (a.k.a. Short Sale).

If you can't get a straight answer on the banks position, keep looking! Use your time wisely and find a plan "B" and "C". You will want this extra information to make certain you are getting the best deal possible. And hey, you just might find a better house to buy in the meantime!

Best of Luck & Happy house hunting during this Holiday Season.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
Megan -
To clarify from previous answers, there has been a recent Georgia law passed that says that for a Realtor to negotiate the terms of a short sale is considered an unauthorized practice of law. However, this is not relevant for your situation anyway since, if my reading skills are correct, your seller IS a licensed salesperson.

You should ask your Realtor if they have a working relationship with a Georgia real estate attorney who could advise you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
If the bank is trying to acquire more offers how long is a normal time period for them to hold off until they start answering people. I just would like to know the status one way or the other.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
In my case the the home owner and the agent are the same person. So it makes it that much more difficult. My agent will email or call the selling agent about once or twice a week. She barely ever answers back but if she does she just says no news from the bank. Always very short and not informative. My realtor has not contacted the mortgage company to see whats going on. Would this be a reasonable thing to do? I am beyond frustrated with it now. I wanted to have a contract laid out before Christmas but I don't see that happening now. The agent says she jsut wants to sell and is frustrated with it too but she does not put effort into answering us back even though I am a willing and able buyer (which is somewhat rare in this market).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 20, 2007
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