Short Sales can fail when you are not the one in control. By that I mean involved in the negotiations on the successful short sale approval.
As Wellington short sale agents we have a very high rate of success in closing our short sale listings in Palm Beach County, Broward county, Miami/Dade county and St Lucie County.
The only time we don’t have success on a short sale listing ( other than the foreclosure not being stopped- which has not happened in a few years) is when the seller has already chosen an attorney to do the short sale negotiations for him before listing their property with us or hires an attorney other than one we know does a good job with negotiations after we list the property.
As Realtors® we have a code of ethics and standards of practice. In that it states that no Realtor® is to work in a field or area of real estate that they are not proficient in.
REALTORS® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client. Any persons engaged to provide such assistance shall be so identified to the client and their contribution to the assignment should be set forth. (Amended 1/10)
But what about attorneys and their assistants? Is there any duty that the BAR requires that attorneys don’t work in areas of real estate matters that they do not have competence in? Is there any requirements for those they hire to process and negotiate short sales to have short sale experience of some kind? No license is required?
The attorneys in these situations are not the ones doing the negotiations. They have hired clerical people to do this work in their offices. So while they are working “under the supervision” of a licensed attorney I am wondering how much supervision they are actually getting?
Case in point:
1. Seller lists their Palm Beach County short sale with us. They chose us because of a referral ( a successful short sale seller). Then after they list their property, they hire an attorney who is doing their short sale. This seller is most likely qualified for HAFA which means he would get a release of his deficiency. The attorney does not want us to be involved in the negotiations. The approval letter comes back from the bank. The attorney has a clerical helper processing and negotiating ( if you can call it that) the short sale. The approval letter states that the first lien holder is NOT going to release their deficiency rights. Nestor asks the clerical person why they don’t have a HAFA approval. There is just silence on the other end of the phone. The clerical person never put this file through HAFA. The sellers refused the short sale terms and conditions from their lender.
As real estate agents in Florida we can not advise these sellers about the incompetancy of the attorney’s office. We can not practice law so we just have to sit by and watch the sellers lose another buyer and maybe lose their home to foreclosure.
2. Seller lists their Palm Beach County short with us. They choose an attorney to do their short sale processing and negotiations. The attorney refused to allow us to see the HUD1 settlement statement that was going in with the short sale package. He said it is because Brokers always have items they want changed. Really? Of course brokers have a say on the HUD1, they are making sure that disbursements of funds are correct and that the real estate fees are listed correctly, etc. Well, the HUD1 did not have mortgage insurance on it. The attorney argued with us saying that the seller did not have any MI. We were not talking about the kind you get when you take out your loan but rather the kind that the note owneres get to protect their bad notes when the market started falling and they knew that the defaults were coming. Of course, he refused to add it. Guess what! The short sale approval letter came in exactly how we said, $5000 shy of the net because there was MI insurance!!! Go figure! The sellers were so disenchanted and vulnerable at that moment that instead of trying to negotiate these terms, their attorney told them to do a DIL.
3. Seller lists their short sale with us. They hire an attorney. The attorney has us working the short sale, showing the house, etc and the attorney was working the DIL at the same time. The attorney after we had invested money and time into this listing was going to get paid more money by doing a DIL than a short sale. We had to cancel the listing so that the sellers could do the DIL.
4. Short sale sellers list their property with us but they were already having their attorney do the short sale negotiations. The attorney gets the approval letter with a request for a promissory note. We thought that was sort of peculiar since the sellers were again, most likely qualified for HAFA. HAFA was never pursued by the clerical help in this attorney’s office.
We take a lot of pride in the fact that we have closed more short sales successfully from our listings over the years than most other agents with the same volume of listings since 2007. This goes against our success record on successfully closing short sales. It also leads to bad feelings between the sellers, the attorneys and us.
So at the end of the day, incompetence ruins relationships. Because of this, we will no longer be accepting short sale listings when the outcome is up to a clerical person in some attorney’s office somewhere who does not even know that you are supposed to try to get the sellers approved for HAFA or other incentivized programs the banks are participating in. We will no longer be accepting listings that are short sales if the sellers’ attorneys don’t know what a short sale prelim HUD1 is supposed to have on it.
Katerina Gasset is the author of http://www.wellingtonfloridashortsales.com. Katerina Gasset is the homeschool mother of 9 children and wife to Nestor Gasset. Katerina Gasset is also a writer, author, speaker, Realtor®, SEO coach, blogging coach and business entrepreneur and consultant.