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JoAnn and Kyle called me back at the end of December, last year. They asked about short-selling their house. I prepared a market analysis, and ordered the title search to get the ball rolling. We planned to have the entire document package ready by mid-January.
Now, I apologize in advance for the length of the rest of this story...it only demonstrates how a typical short sale can dumbfound everyone involved!
As a part of unpacking our gameboard, I determined that the sellers had an FHA loan, and that Bank of America (BofA) was the servicing lender. The sellers took they're first roll of the dice to start their short sale game. Their application and all of the documents were completed, and quickly delivered to the SS lender. Here's our first move:
ADVANCE five spaces - Go!
A call to the lender confirms BofA received all documents and everything appears complete. We soon discover that the lender's legal dept hadn't "re-coded" the sellers account from their former bankruptcy. Now processing is going to be delayed. Weeks pass, and we learn that the short sale dept never receives the file from the legal dept. Lender says file will be "escalated", but it's gonna take another 7-10 days before anything happens.
Here's our next set of moves:
moved AHEAD two spaces
move BACK two spaces
LOSE two turns
EXCHANGE places with pawn behind us
Ten more days pass without any communication. Contacted the BofA social media team on Twitter for assistance. They offer to intervene, but they'll take a few days to look into it. They inform us that legal dept still hasn't released file, but it will happen. Next day, we're notified that the file has been assigned to a level-1 negotiator, and the negotiator would contact us within 24 hours to get the short sale on track:
JUMP one space
DRAW card - back to start!
SLIDE forward 5 spaces
No phone call or emails the following day. Called SS dept to discover that there was a mix-up, and that all contact information provided to us, was wrong. SS dept exchanges correct information with two supervisors' contact information:
opponent BLOCKS move
DRAW - advance two times number rolled (snake eyes- whew)
SPLIT next move with pawn ahead - back up eight
Just A Misunderstanding
BofA Negotiator calls next day and says he's sending out Welcome Packet, and he'll order title and appraisal. Negotiator1 reviews docs and says "nothing more is needed." He'll also have everything re-coded to reflect, and all will be good. Negotiator says that once homeowner signs Welcome Packet, BofA will approve the short sale. He has an appraiser call to set appt to view property:
LAND on 'welcome packet' - forward 3
ROLL TWICE - ahead 3!
EXCHANGE place with opponent - go 5 more
JUMP two opponents - advance 4
Game Of Musical Chairs
The following week, BofA informs us that file will be transferred to a new person in a different processing center, and in a different state. The negotiator, (Negotiator2), calls to introduce herself:
DRAW card - "visualize making progress & laugh" - move ahead 0
Not So Fast
A week goes by with no other contact by BofA. Request an intervention from Twitter team. Negotiator-2 calls seeking some new documents, and informs us that "what Negotiator1 said about no more documents being needed, was completely incorrect." Sellers assemble new packet of documents sought by Negotiator2:
banker EXACTS REVENGE - lose 3 spaces
Negotiator2 fails to respond for weeks. Finally, she emails and says the documents she requested, were never received. Again, sellers prepare duplicate documents and send to both her and the BofA SS dept. No response from Negotiator2:
DRAW card - back 2 spaces
SWITCH places with opponent behind - back another 4
Going In Circles
Negotiator2 emails two weeks later, and requests more (new and old) documents, again. We seek another intervention through the BofA Twitter Team, and ask Negotiator2's supervisor to "escalate." Going on 4th month without any measurable progress:
SKIP 2 turns
move BACK 20 spaces - FORFEIT all progress
You Don't Say
Finally, Negotiator2 emails to notify us that BofA will agree to participate in the short sale, and they'll be issuing a formal "Approval To Participate." Negotiator2 says file is being assigned to another negotiator who'll be in touch with us in 7 days:
HOP ten spaces FORWARD
DRAW "get out of SS hell" card
move AHEAD 5 spaces
SWITCH place with pawn behind
What Don't You Like About Full Price
Two weeks pass without any contact by Negotiator3. We call SS dept to confirm Negotiator3 is working file, and on-board. Eventually we get an email from Negotiator3 that says he'll be in touch. We now deliver a full price offer with pre-approved financing. Buyer is ready and anxious:
CONSULT other players and check emotional status
Don't Bother Me
Two weeks pass with no communication from Negotiator3 about the offer or a closing date. We attempt more communications with BofA to get some response, and inform Negotiator3 that buyer has completed all inspections. Everything that can be done is done. Negotiator3 sends email saying... "he'll get to us as soon as he can." Two more weeks pass, nothing..
PASS dice to player on left - no move
opponent behind BUMPS - move forward 1
DRAW card - guess wrong - back 8
We prepare another escalation request with strongly worded letter to Negotiator3. Twitter Team seeks to help with yet another intervention. Surprise.. negotiator3 immediately responds and says he's sorry, and he'll issue "conditional approval" (just as soon as some more documents are signed). Negotiator3 communicates for several days in-a-row and we feel very very special. A few days later...another brick wall. Entering the 'silence zone' again. So close, but feels so far! Keeping fingers crossed.
CHANGE places with lead pawn - go 15
LAND ON "your almost there" - final approach
move BACK one space
Is This It
We're hopefully getting close to the end of this short sale game, but haven't taken our final moves:
draw GUESS card
IF RIGHT - COLLECT PRESENTS to reach home
IF WRONG - LOSE GAME all time & effort lost
Win Or Lose
Did JoAnn & Kyle's short sale actually close....it did... but only after six months of delays and agony.
As straight-forward and simple as some short sales should be, and as motivated and prepared as both the buyers and sellers are, that's never any indication of how things will go when dealing with any Short Sale Lender.
The moral of this dysfunctional short sale board game is to prepare, stay focused, be calm and professional, never give up, and pray that the squeaky wheel will get some grease. Eventually, we hope you'll finish the game a winner!
Michael Dagner is an expert in Denver-Area home sales,
and a member of Short Sale Superstars. Call today, (303) 514-4000,
for help with your short sale, or purchase.
Image Attributions: board game & pug - sxc.hu
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The Michael Dagner Group, Brokers Guild Cherry Creek Ltd, 7995 E. Hampden Ave, Ste 100, Denver, CO 80231 Map
5 Minutes From The Denver Tech Center - Near Tamarac Square, 9-Mile Station, & Cherry Creek Reservoir