How do I find an attorney to negotciate a short sale w/ the lender?

Asked by Joe, San Jose, CA Tue Oct 7, 2008

Are there any full-service firms that handle the sale from start to finish?

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Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Thu Oct 9, 2008
Your actual question was how to find an attorney to handle a short sale start to finish. Herein, I try to provide suggestions for your search. My prior post addressed why I believe the best course of action is a Realtor for marketing and negotiations, with an attorney for legal review.

My recommendation will be to find a Realtor who is experienced in short sales and has worked as part of a team with an attorney to finalize the transaction.

The bank will want to know that the highest price and best terms have been achieved with the proposed contract. An experienced Realtor can speak to market conditions, comparable property sales, and marketing that was provided to secure a contract.

These are a few suggestions for finding experienced Realtors or attorneys:

1) Google for the keywords, Realtor, real estate, short sale, loss mitigation and include words to key to your county or town.

2) Track the foreclosures that did not go to auction, but were privately sold. Info is available through the county offices. Who handled these sales? You can also search foreclosures on Trulia for the properties that are actually listed with Realtors. If a Realtor is listing foreclosures, they might have short sales experience. Shortlist these individuals and have a conversation with them about their experience.

3) Phone bankruptcy attorneys and ask them for referrals for Realtors who they know work with short sales.

4) Phone the broker/managers of real estate brokerage offices and ask the manager who in their office has experience with short sales.

Ask the Realtors if they work in conjunction with attorneys. Why or why not? Ask which attorneys they recommend.

The above suggestions will probably lead you to other avenues for potential representatives; both Realtors and attorneys.

Good Luck
Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey
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Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Thu Oct 9, 2008

This post........opinion on Realtor vs. Attorney representation in short sales. Next to find a representative.

I have worked on short sales where the listing came as a result from a referral from an attorney. Although the referral source was an attorney, we, at the brokerage negotiated all terms between the bank, presented the hardship package and discussed the real estate market to assure the bank the best possible price was achieved. Part of getting a bank to accept a short sale is helping them understand why this presented offer is the best business decision for them. Our bullet point list of market conditions, other offers, and state of the market has been key to the decision making process. Once an agreement was reached, the attorney reviewed the paperwork prior to signing and finalizing the contracts. I have also worked on short sales where I represented the buyer, with a few currently presented offers that are awaiting decisions.

This morning, a LA (listing agent) called me to tell me that her seller had the sellers’ attorney present a short sale offer to an attorney representing the lender. The LA is beside herself because the attorney has just blown a potential deal with a fantastic buyer. I rep the buyer; we will simply move on to another property. The Realtor has years of experience and the attorney has never been involved with a short sale.

When representing a seller in a short sale recently, I had an attorney contact me who wanted to submit an offer for a buyer client, but declined to provide the necessary paperwork. The attorney believed he knew more, because he was an attorney. (yawn) His client’s offer was rejected, even though the offer price was slightly higher. I know many great attorneys; this one was an arrogant goofball. I didnt' represent the buyer, but I felt sorry for the buyer.

I am confident in my ability to represent a seller or buyer in a short sale, and have found our process of broker to bank negotiations, followed by bringing an attorney in to review documents before finalizing to be the best course of action. I am sure there are success stories when attorneys have been the negotiator. And, surely, there are stories where an agent/broker’s inexperience has botched a deal.

Bottom Line: The person handling the negotiations should be knowledgeable, experienced and be willing to go the distance. If you find an agent who can demonstrate proficiency, go forward. If you choose to go the route of an attorney, make sure the attorney has experience in that arena, along with the commitment and tolerance to deal with the banks without charging you a fortune for doing so.

Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group - New Jersey
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Bettina Ries…, Agent, Gilbert, AZ
Thu Oct 9, 2008
HI Joe,

If you are attempting to purchase a short sale, an attorney would not be the one to talk to. In fact, as a short-sale buyer, you are sort of in a "cross your fingers and hope the listing agent knows what they're doing" situation. You may want your Realtor to discuss with the listing agent as to how many short-sales they have successfully sold before foreclosure. If the answer is less than 2, you may recommend that they get assistance from another agent that can handle the negotiation piece for them properly, such as myself.

On the other hand, if you are the seller, it is still not necessary, or di I think it would help much, to employ an attorney to negotiate the sale. I can fully explain the process in detail to you as to how the negotiation is done correctly as I assist short sale clients in AZ right now and help Real Estate agents in AZ & CA with the negotiation process. Loss mitigation is truly an art that I take pride in doing. If you would like to contact me, I can share with you how it works and help you find a good agent to handle the transaction in your area while I prepare your short sale package.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
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Tni LeBlanc, Agent, Santa Maria, CA
Wed Oct 8, 2008

As an attorney and a broker, I would disagree that you should not employ an attorney. Most Realtors I deal with have no idea about the legal issues that surround a short sale, even when they are "short sale experts." I advise ALL my short sale sellers to employ an attorney to work with us on the transaction as a part of our short sale team. For some sellers, if they cannot negotiate a short sale they will face a bankruptcy, so attorney advise is highly reommended. Also, I find that lenders treat short sales with more concern when an attorney is involved.

The best attorney of course is one who has experience. I would also try to arrange a fixed fee arrangement for the entire transaction as they can drag on, and you don't want to pay every time your attorney has to pick up the phone because your lender needs you to resubmit the same info.

Also, check out my blog articles on short sales:……


Tni LeBlanc, JD, MA, e-PRO
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Rebekah Owen,…, Agent, San Jose, CA
Wed Oct 8, 2008
Hi Joe,

I am a Broker in California and in Texas - where attorneys are required to overlook the process. Trust me, you DON'T want an attorney! :-)

That being said, you do need someone that has experience doing short sales. Only about 30% of short sales here in the San Jose area ever close. Every bank has a different process and it's dumb luck as to whether you get a good asset manager or not.

Look for someone that has been in the business for a long time, that has a great reputation in the community and has an outstanding track record.

Good luck! I hope that helped.

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Frances Flynn…, , State College, PA
Wed Oct 8, 2008
I think that your very BEST bet is to contact an attorney who specializes in consumer protection law. Typically these are not attorneys who specialize in real estate law. An attorney who specializes in consumer protection law can review your paperwork and look for discrepancies that may offer hope for the best outcome. In many cases, these attorneys will review your case and work on a contingency basis. You can find an attorney or a good referral at the National Assn. of Consumer Advocates.

I am a licensed REALTOR ... I think your best bet is to contact a consumer protection attorney first!!!
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Bart Marchio…, Agent, Mountain View, CA
Wed Oct 8, 2008
Hi Joe,

You don't need an attorney, you need a realtor who specializes in short sales to negotiate a short payoff of the mortgage with your lender. I am a Certified Short Sale Specialist and negotiate with lenders every single day. I would be happy to share with you the strategies my team and I use to get our short sales approved, when others are stuggling to do so.

It appears that you are a buyer, from your profile. Are you interested in buying a short sale property or would you like to try and sell your home for less than what you owe?

Visit our Website to learn more, and then give me a call to discuss your specific situation to see if we can help you.

Best regards,

Bart Marchioni
Real Estate Consultant
Certified Foreclosure Specialist
Certified Short Sale Specialist
Bank-Owned Property Specialist
(408) 266-3100
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Scott Godzyk, Agent, Manchester, NH
Tue Oct 7, 2008
Your bets bet is not an attorney but a well experienced realtor, an attorney can take care of the paperwork but can assist with the other items. you may consider a combination of the two. A realtor will be able to get you todays value, find a buyer, assist the buyer with financing, fill out the bank paperwork while the attorney will best help you with what you and the bank can work out with the amount of money you still owe after the short sale only pays off a portion or your total debt. make sure the bank willbe waiving this amount without you having to pay it back today, next year or 5 years. short sales are not easy, a lawyer will charge a fortune to do everything, a short sale needs daily calls to the lender of at least an hour a day to make sure it works. good luck
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