How do you find a good agent well versed in short sales?

Asked by Jeff Ranta, Sacramento, CA Wed Apr 23, 2008

A couple of the homes I am looking to buy are 'short sale' homes of which I have heard can be troublesome. Are there any agents that specialize in short sales in Sacramento?

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Erin Stumpf…, Agent, Sacramento, CA
Wed Apr 23, 2008
Hi Jeff,

Interesting question. Agents who specialize in short sales generally specialize in actually listing them, not representing buyers to purchase them. The listing agent is the one who does all of the 'special' work to negotiate with the lender(s) to get them to agree to a short payoff of the sellers loan(s). I, like Elizabeth, list short sales. I get referrals and people find me on google too...

On the other side of the coin, I am very hesitant to suggest to buyers that they get involved in a short sale transaction - there is a lot of risk in your shoes. What type of loan program are you working with? The risk for buyers compounds if you are using a VA or FHA loans or grant programs - as there are restrictions on property condition, and short sales are generally sold 'as-is'. If your appraiser notes anything that needs attention in the appraisal, and the underwriter decides that the home must have _____ repair done prior to the close of escrow, you will have a problem, and yes this does happen.

What are the other risks, you might ask? With short sales, the buyer has zero control over the flow of the transaction whatsoever. It is very difficult to determine in advance if conditions are right for a short sale to be approved by a lender...or lenders. They can take months to get approval. Sometimes, while you wait for approval, at the 11th hour, a better offer might come in - and then you are just out of luck. Sometimes, you wait months for approval and then the lender says no. Sometimes, time runs out and the bank
forecloses the home out from underneath you. So basically, if you have a high tolerance for uncertainty, frustration, disappointment, and waiting, a short sale purchase might be great for you. ;-)
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Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Wed Apr 23, 2008
I don't know that agents "specialize" in short sales as much as they now MUST know how to handle short sales since such listings are coming fast and furious! With the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007, I can almost bet that this will give the impetus to sellers who are upside down on their home loans to try to get out by selling their homes in a short sale (before they are foreclosed).

Between REOs (bank-owned) and short sales, I personally would rather sell an REO because believe it or not, it's less trouble, requires less follow up, and can close sooner than a short sale. But REOs can be quite problematic and challenging, too.

If a short sale listing doesn't sell soon, it may end up being an REO anyway.

You'll find that most of the agents you meet or talk to will have some experience by now with short sales. It's not just the number of short sale transactions they complete, but rather how well they negotiate the process.

I always recommend this site to people who are interested in knowing more and understanding better the benefits and pitfalls of short sales and foreclosures. Check this out.…

Good luck!
1 vote
Jillian Ande…, , 95628
Wed Apr 23, 2008
It is hard to throw a rock these days and not hit a short sale. I service the seller & the buyer side on short sales in this area. They can be troublesome for the buyer in that it can take several weeks if not a month or longer to find out if an offer written on a short sale will actually go through. If the buyer can exercise a little patience sometimes they can get a great deal with a short sale or REO. I would be happy to sit down with you and review the procedure more indepth to see how it would fit for your homebuying needs.
1 vote
Tamera Valle…, Agent, Sacramento, CA
Tue May 26, 2009
Hi Jeff,

Not to beat a dead horse! But short sales are like many transactions in the market today...there are challenges with financing, banks and appraisers. All of the agents on here are quite experienced and will take you through the process and weather the challenges along the way. My rule of thumb on short sales for buyers is if we don't get communication in the beginning we probably won't get it at all! First 10 days is important. I have closed buyer short sales that have gone just fine with very few bumps. I have also had agents call me 90 days or more after our offer to say bank has approved! You have to take them one at a time and be willing to jump through the hoops and not get your heart set on the first one!
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Jeff Ranta, Home Buyer, Sacramento, CA
Thu Apr 24, 2008
Thank you for all your responses. The problem is I have found a perfect house for me, it looks well maintainted and the price is right, maybe a pretty good price for the condition of the house. I don't think it would fail any inspections and I don't mind waiting even a couple months if the deal would close. As for financing, yes unfortunately(at least for this situation) I am trying for a FHA loan as I am a first time home buyer trying to buy a house on my own.
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Jacob Jackson, Home Buyer, San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 24, 2008
I also read the site about foreclosures and short sales, and whoa, did everybody know that Elizabeth Weintraub who writes on this site from Sacramento is the author of those articles?
0 votes
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Wed Apr 23, 2008
Hi Jeff,
Erin Attardi has actually closed at least one short sale as a listing agent that I know of and probably more. So believe her when she tells you that it is full of potential uncertainty, frustration, disappointment, and waiting for a potential buyer of a short sale.

I always warn my buyers that short sale listings have a very low probability of ever selling as short sales and that one should only chase the short sale house if it is your one of a kind dream home. If you are just looking for a bargain, Bank REO's and normal sellers are better. There are even a couple of builders with newly finished homes in town who will beat the REO and short sale prices.
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