Of all the types of distressed properties, shortsales are probably the hardest to close escrow on. Often the seller is still living in the property. He or she may have invested their life savings making a down payment that has disappeared with a declining market. They are upset that they are losing their home and fearful, as they will probably have little or no money to make a move with. Plus their credit is shot and there are few landlords that will even consider renting to them without a substantial deposit. Of course, if they had a substantial deposit, they could afford to make their monthly payment!
And even if the seller is cooperative, there is still the bank to contend with. In a market that is inundated with requests for short sale approval and where there is a large inventory of properties that have gone all the way through the foreclosure process, the bank's loss mitigation departments are backed up and understaffed. And often there is more than one bank to seek short sale approval from. (During the recent subprime lending years, buyers who had no down payments were able to borrow 100% of the purchase price on their home. Usually this was accomplished by putting both first and second Las Vegas mortgages on the property.) Very likely the second mortgage holder is going to be wiped out and has very little incentive to approve the sale.
Currently there are just over 5000 homes and condos for sale in Las Vegas that are in short sale status, and of those almost 4,000 are priced under $300,000. (By comparison, there are just over 2,000 Las Vegas foreclosures or REOs, bank owned properties.) It is taking anywhere from 30 to 60 days to get an approval from the bank on a short sale. And the listing agent must jump through hoops getting the proper documentation together so that the lender will consider an offer in the first place. A typical Las Vegas short sale package would include:
Seller’s Hardship Letter
Offer and Counter Offer on Subject Property
Estimated Net Sheet
Buyer’s Approval Letter
Seller’s Last Two Pay Check Stubs
Statement of Seller’s Monthly Expenses
Seller's Last Two Bank Statements
Seller's Most Recent Tax Return
Copy of MLS Listing
Listing History of Subject Property
County Tax Record for Subject Property
Recent Comparable Sales for Subject Property
The seller must be able to prove that they have insufficient income to pay the monthly payment and that they have no other assets. The seller must also be able to prove a true hardship like a lost job, interest rate adjustment or divorce. Just because the market has gone south and the seller wants to move doesn't constitute a short sale unless one of the previous reasons apply.
The listing agent must be able to show a concerted effort to market the home for the best possible price. And once the offer is approved, if the listing agent forgets to put an expense on the estimated net sheet, the bank will refuse to pay it as they feel they based their decision on flawed information. Oftentimes it is difficult for the listing agent to accurately assess the costs as they may include sewer bills, unpaid HOA assessments or unrecorded mechanics liens.
And once the bank does finally approve the short sale, if another higher and better offer is received, the bank can choose to un-approve the first offer. They are not the owner of record for the property and no negotiated approval is binding on them in a short sale.
So if you are thinking of purchasing a short sale property, you need to have lots of patience, a great Las Vegas real estate agent and a bit of luck!
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