Below is a simple diagram of a “normal” sale. Buyer makes offer AFTER verifying everything is in order to close, except the appraisal. Downpayment funds in bank? Check. Pre-approval for mortgage? Check. Cash for closing costs in bank? Check. Ready to make offer. Appraisal comes in at the sale price. Buyer ready to close.
We’re just following the money here. We don’t need to show the Earnest Money, as Earnest Money is not “additional” amounts needed by the buyer. It’s just an advance against monies later needed at escrow to close.
In the example of a “normal” sale, the amount provided by the buyer is in excess of the amount needed by the seller to pay all seller costs and payoff all monies owed on the property, including lienable utilities. As long as the amount offered exceeds the amount the seller needs, the sale closes.
Now let’s look at all the things that go wrong, creating a “short sale” situation, in the graph below.
First notice that the main reason the buyer is often impatient and confused is that everything the buyer does is exactly the same in a short sale as it is in a normal sale. Everything that goes wrong, and everything that may or may not be done to fix it, is out of the buyer’s control.
That is why you often see questions like:
1) How can I contact the seller’s creditors?
2) How can I contact the seller?
3) How can we find out exactly what is going on!?!?
Now look very closely at the diagram above. I want you to go to the last box on the right. Aha… that’s the part everyone seems to be missing.
Just because the value of a property is obviously less than the amount owed, that does not mean that the seller’s lienholder is going to approve the short sale. In most cases no one involved in the transaction knows what is in that last box. Escrow doesn’t know, the agents don’t know and very often everything proceeds for months as if what the seller has in assets and cash outside of the sale of the property is meaningless.
Now ask yourself this: You lend your friend $10,000 to buy a car. He decides to sell it when he still owes you $8,000. He tells you someone is willing to pay $5,000 for the car and he wants you to take $5,000 as payment in full. You look at his offer, you find out he he has $15,000 in a savings account. You find out the blue book value for the car is $6,500. The person who wants to buy the car for $5,000 is getting impatient wating for an answer. What would you do?
That’s a “short sale” pure and simple. Do you take the $5,000 because you can get it in a few days? Oh but wait, your friend won’t sell the car to get you the $5,000, unless you agree, in writing, that you won’t EVER come after him for the remaining $3,000 you owe him. Should you just take the car and try to sell it for the $6,500 or better, so that you can still collect the amount your friend owes you after you sell the car?
Tell me, what are the odds in that situation that you are going to say “sure, I’ll take the $5,000 and leave you alone”? If you know there is $15,000 in the bank AND the car is worth more than $5,000, why WOULD you say…sure, no problem.
Almost never do you see anyone talking about why the bank WOULD NOT approve the short sale, because they are always talking about how the bank should be happy to get a fraction of what is owed, and $60,000 or more less than what it’s worth.
But what about the owner’s money in the bank? What about the owner’s $120,000 income a year, but he moved and bought a new house and stopped making payments on the old house? What about the equity in the seller’s other house…oh and he made that big downpayment on his NEW house by refinancing (taking the cash out of) this one that is now short.
So if you are buying a short sale and are simply waiting for the bank to say yes, remember it sometimes takes a really long time for someone to say YES to something that they don’t want to say yes to. On the other hand if all you want is a fast answer, anyone can pressure the bank to say NO in a matter of days.
There’s a lot more to a short sale approval, and most of it has to do with whether or not the bank is willing to forgive the remaining debt, or the seller is willing to sign a note agreeing to pay the remaining debt.
No one asks this question, before they make an offer. No one knows the answer to this question while they are waiting for approval. Most of the time the delay is because the owner wants forgiveness of debt, and the lender needs the owner to prove current and long term “hardship” in order to release them from the future obligation to pay.