Invest in Short Sale?

Short Sale Timeline for Buyers

Read What is Short Sale?.

A short sale can be a good deal for a cash buyer or investor. And it can help the seller avoid having a full foreclosure on his or her credit record.

Because in a short sale, the proceeds from the home sale are less than the amount the seller needs to pay off the mortgage debt and the costs of selling, so for this deal to go through, everyone who is owed money must agree to take less -- or possibly no money at all. This is one reason why short sale can be a very complex transaction that move slowly and often falls through.It is a lengthy and paperwork-intensive transaction that may take up to a whole year to process.

If approved for short sale, the buyer or investor negotiates with the homeowner first, then seeks approval on the purchase from the bank. It is important to note that no short sale may occur without the lender’s approval.

Before you rush in, consider the following issues.

1. Know what you are getting into. Buying a short sale is not a do-it-yourself project. Find a real estate professional (even attorney), who understands the short sale process in your state. Having an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent (or fellow investor) on your side who knows how short sales work will increase the chances of closing the deal without loosing your shirt. Even under the ideal circumstances, short sales can take a long time to close and may require extra effort on the part of the buyer.

2. Be wary of the condition of the property. If the seller is in financial distress, chances are the home may not be well-preserved. The seller also may be reluctant to reveal serious maintenance issues. Proceed carefully and get the property inspected by a knowledgeable person before you commit.

3. Make sure the deal can close. If you've decided to go for it, the first step is to determine the status of the short sale. Below are items that most lenders require from a short seller. If the seller is unable or unwilling to provide this information, the short sale won't close and any buyer is wasting his or her time.

A hardship letter. The seller must explain why he/she cannot keep up with making payments. The sadder the story, the better. A seller who is simply tired of struggling probably won't be approved, but a seller with cancer, no job and an empty bank account may. The most common acceptable reasons are divorce, bankruptcy, loss of job or some kind of emergency.

Proof of income and assets. It is in the best interest of the lender to recover funds from the home owner. If the lender discovers that the home owner has other assets, including retirement funds, they may prefer to liquidate these assets for payment on the mortgage, and denies the short sale. The proof of income and assets must include income tax and bank statements, going back at least two years. Sometimes sellers are unwilling to produce these documents because they conflict with information on the original loan application, which may have been fudged. If that's the case, this deal is unlikely to close.

Comparative market analysis. This document shows that the value of the property has declined, which essentially means the home owner has no equity in the property, and it won't sell anytime soon for the amount owed. The comparative market analysis should include a list of comparable properties on the market and a list of properties that have sold in the past six months or have been on the market in that time frame and are about to close. This analysis is very similar to the Broker Price Opinion, which is less formal but often more informative than a property appraisal. The prices should support the seller's contention that the property is worth no more than the short-sale price.

A list of liens. The home owner must be at least 3 months behind on the mortgage and has been served a lis pendens from the court indicating that the lender intends to foreclose on the property if they do not receive payment in the near future. There may be more than one lender or liens on the property, and all lien holders have to agree to take less -- or possibly no money at all..

If there are first and second mortgage liens, the question becomes: What's the plan to satisfy these lien holders? If there is a third mortgage lien, reaching any deal is very iffy.

Deal killers include child support liens, state tax liens and homeowners association liens. If they exist and there are no obvious solutions, walk away, Thompson says.

Because a short sale generally doesn't cover the whole amount owed or other liens, it can trigger mortgage insurance. If the property is covered by a mortgage insurance policy that doesn't have to pay off until the home has been in foreclosure for 150 days or some similar length of time, chances are the insurer will hold up the sale because it won't want to pay any earlier than necessary and hopes the foreclosure will just disappear. Often the mortgage insurer will simply go silent. Thompson says: No response, no approval.

4. Be realistic. Short sale is a waiting game. This is not your game, if you're in a hurry.
Part of the slow down in short sale is potential buyers’ lowball offers, which are ultimately rejected.

Another factor is the increasing number of government programs aimed at keeping people in their homes. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, about 50 percent of defaults never go as far as foreclosure. So lenders see short sales as potentially the least attractive option and aren't willing to expedite them.

To avoid getting stuck in an extended process of negotiation, start by negotiating with the seller and the seller's agent that your offer will be the only one presented to the lender. If the lender isn't flooded with offers, it will be more motivated to move forward.

5. Have your cash ready. Once you have a deal, you should have your money ready, preferably cash. If you're getting a loan, you need bank approval in advance.

As with any deals like REOs, short sales, foreclosure, or auctions -- make sure you have money lined up ready to go. Cash is always the best financing option in all these deals.

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Author: Anna

We help families in Hawaii achieve financial freedom and the lifestyle they've always dreamt of by empowering them with financial education and money strategies to make more money, save more money, so their money can work for them.

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