We hear a lot of complaints from real estate agents about how tough it is to do short sales. It takes too long, it’s too complex, the lenders are hard to work with, blah blahblah. Yes, these sales are difficult, but so is 90 percent of life. Get over it.
If that sounds harsh, let me pile on by saying that part of the problem is in the agents themselves. Now, some of my best friends are agents, and the bulk of them are hard-working, smart, and effective people. But too many agents got way too comfortable with the boom days of the 90s and the early days of the previous decade, and they haven’t gotten used to the fact that successful real estate sales, especially short sales, is no longer an easy money game.
In a way, I should be thankful that agents feel that way about short sales, since it means more business for us. But the latest dose of whining still rubs me the wrong way. A recent survey by the California Association of Realtors showed that 77 percent of agents consider short sales difficult or extremely difficult. Agents complained about lenders’ slow response times, poor communication, and repeated requests for documentation.
Well, communication is a two-way street, and if an agent isn’t getting a response from a lender, they need to follow up and follow up frequently. I don’t want to give away our tricks, but we have ways of reaching these people that I’ll just describe as “persistence.”
Another key is in the negotiation and communication from the agent to the lender. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard how agents try to negotiate with lenders the way they do with buyers and sellers. That doesn’t work. Telling the lender that the offer you presented is the best one they’ll ever see for that crappy house that’s falling apart anyway doesn’t win them over. It just irritates them and makes them more likely to put your paperwork on the bottom of the pile.
That’s like proposing to your girlfriend by telling her she really needs to marry you, because she’s probably not going to get any other men interested in her, being so plain-looking and dull and all.
It’s the persistence, knowing what to say, knowing how to price the homes in ways that win lender agreement – plus our experience and expertise and some other secret sauce – that give us an 80 percent sale completion rate, with an industry-leading average listing-to-sale period of 48 days. We just issued a news announcement about that 48 days, since it is so much better than the typical sale duration.
Once again, for someone considering a short sale, this is why you sign on with an agent who has experience at successful short sales. It can mean the difference between getting the house sold or hearing the agent complain about how tough they’ve got it.