Due to current economic conditions, the number of short sale properties on the market is rising. The increasing number of short sales on the market presents challenges for REALTORS®. Here you'll find more information on short sales and their challenges, the government's efforts to address these challenges, and tools to help you navigate the short sale process.
To check on the status of a particular short sale you should contact the lender. For a Freddie Mac loan, email shortsales@FreddieMac.com.
Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA)
To help homeowners who are unable to keep their homes under the Home Affordable Modification Program, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Program may make a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure a viable option to help them avoid foreclosure. The HAFA Program, which took effect April 5, 2010, provides servicer, seller and junior lien holder incentives for these transactions and is designed to simplify and streamline use of short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.
What is a short sale?
A short sale is a transaction in which the lender, or lenders, agree to accept less than the mortgage amount owed by the current homeowner. In some cases, the difference is forgiven by the lender, and in others the homeowner must make arrangements with the lender to settle the remainder of the debt.
Why is the number of short sales rising?
Due to the recent economic crisis, including rising unemployment, and drops in home prices in communities across the nation, the number of short sales is increasing. Since a short sale generally costs the lender less than a foreclosure, it can be a viable way for a lender to minimize its losses.
A short sale can also be the best option for a homeowners who are “upside down” on mortgages because a short sale may not hurt their credit history as much as a foreclosure. As a result, homeowners may qualify for another mortgage sooner once they get back on their feet financially.
What challenges have short sales presented for REALTORS®?
The rapid increase in the number of short sales, and the short sales process itself present a number of challenges for REALTORS®. Major challenges include:
- Limited experience. Many REALTORS® are new to the short sales process; a difficulty which is compounded by many lenders' lack of sufficient and experienced staff to process short sales. Even if the REALTORS® are experienced, most servicers are under-staffed and still not adequately trained, making negotiating a short sale particularly difficult.
- Absence of a uniform process and application. Until HAFA guidelines were established, both short-sales documents and processes were lender-specific, making it very difficult and time-consuming for REALTORS® to become knowledgeable and efficient in facilitating these transactions.
- Multiple lenders. When more than one lender is involved, the negotiations are much more difficult. Second lien holders often hold up the transaction to exert the largest possible payment, in exchange for releasing their lien, even though in foreclosure they will get nothing.
As a result of these challenges our members have reported difficulties with: unresponsive lenders; lost documents that require multiple submissions, inaccurate or unrealistic home value assessments, and long processing delays, which cause buyers to walk away.
What is being done to address or eliminate these challenges?
HAFA is designed to address many of the challenges presented by short sales. For more information see NAR's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program or learn more about short sales through NAR's Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource Certification.