Short Sales and Foreclosures, at Christmas?

There is a description by Scrooge in the Muppet Christmas Carol (my favorite Christmas movie 🙂 that says Christmas is “Harvest time for the money lenders”. In truth, most lenders do not want to foreclose in the winter at all, let alone Christmas, and especially not this year (they own enough homes they don’t want already!). It’s just not good business. Nevertheless, there are those who are hopelessly behind in their payments at this point, and the lenders can’t exactly let them live rent free forever either.
This morning we heard a talk by Shawn Morgan, a short sale negotiator with Wells Fargo, who gave us a some interesting tid bits to mull over. First, just as a reminder, a short sale is when the bank agrees to take less than they are owed, usually to avoid having to foreclose on the property. Very often this is without seeking the difference from the borrower, making it an attractive alternative to borrowers who might otherwise let their property be foreclosed upon, and eventually be pursued for a deficiency judgement. Pursuing a short sale is by far the best alternative for many (though not all) homeowners who are underwater and HAVE to move.
Despite their best efforts, the process at Wells Fargo is still pretty much 6-8 weeks (slipping to 10 at times) to get an answer, no matter how good everyone is doing their job. For buyers, this means patience. If you need a house in 30 days, don’t even bother. On the other hand, these deals are often going at 85% of the current appraised value, which may very well be off another 20% from the peak of the market here in Colorado Springs.
Other bits and pieces included:
1. Corporations can’t do short sales
2. Trusts and LLC’s can only do them if the note was originally done in their name (not very often the case), so likely title will have to transfer back to the individual prior to receiving any attention from the short sale negotiator
3. Hounding and threatening that ‘the buyer will walk’ if they don’t answer fast, doesn’t get anywhere with these guys, they’ve got a big enough stack on their desk already to put up with the brain damage.
4. Having realistic expectations for dates and dollars, and a very thorough and complete short sale package usually gets the job done.
The Colorado Springs foreclosure rate is still running at record levels (El Paso County Foreclosure Data), but healthier buyer traffic is holding down the percentage of sales that are distressed (unofficially 22.2% last month), so maybe this problem will be less of an issue over time. We are told that nationally, there is another wave of option ARM loans resetting over the next 18 months. It remains to see how many of those we really have locally, since our market tends to be more heavily influenced by FHA and VA loans that are 30 year fixed rate loans.
It has been a wintry day today, but the sun is back out, and the snow has stopped, even though it is cold and windy. Looking forward to the 40’s again by this weekend, enough of this single digit stuff. What global warming?!!!
Got questions about living in Colorado Springs? Call me at 719-590-4768 or 888-568-6784! www.facebook.com/rickvanwieren for more photos, www.twitter.com/rvanwieren for more frequent updates!

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