This is a time for decisions: rent out the home; try for mortgage modification; sell; or allow the lender to foreclose. When the decision is made to try to sell the home in a short sale transaction, the decision-making process doesn’t end there.
How does the average homeowner go about selling the home under these conditions?
There is only one correct answer to that question: find a real estate agent. Not just any agent, though. The short sale process is complicated and full of details and timelines. Only a real estate agent that is experienced with the short sale process – that has led numerous of these transactions to a successful close – is capable of handling your short sale.
When looking for a short sale agent you may turn, as many do, to the Internet. Every day real estate agents all over the country put up new blogs and websites claiming to be “short sale experts.” Reading the content on those sights is disheartening to those of us who are the true short sale pros. So much of what passes as information is misleading, and so much is just downright wrong.
So, how does the homeowner discern the true experts from the rookies? Let’s take a look at a list of do’s and don’ts.
- Don’t choose Aunt-Martha-who-has-a-real-estate-license -- unless of course, he’s experienced with short sales.
- Don’t choose the guy that mails you postcards all the time -- unless he has handled lots of short sales successfully.
- Don’t choose an agent simply because he or she gained a short sale designation simply by taking classes offered by the National Association of Realtors. Unless – you guessed it – the agent has the experience to back up the theory learned in the classroom.
- Don’t forget that you are placing your house, your credit and your future financial prospects in this person’s hands. Treat choosing the short sale agent as the most important aspect of the short sale process. Because it is.
- Ask friends, coworkers, neighbors and family members who have experienced a short sale to refer you to an agent.
- Go online to one of the real estate sites and peruse the sold listings. Look for agents that seem to pop up a lot as having sold short sale properties.
- Interview several agents, asking pertinent questions, which you’ll find below.
When you’ve narrowed down your choices to a handful of agents, call each one to set up an appointment. Here are some questions to ask:
What is your list-to-close ratio on short sale transactions?
This number represents how many short sale listings the agent has taken and how many of those he or she has successfully closed. This is the most important question you will ask: it separates the pros from the rookies, so take note of the answer. If the agent has not successfully closed over 90 percent of their short sale listings, cross him or her off your list.
Ask for the names and phone numbers of their five most recent short sale clients.
Then call them. Find out how the transaction went and if they recommend the agent.
What do you suggest as a listing price for my home?
If the agent chooses a figure that is over current market value, choose another agent. You need to sell the house, not make sure the lender gets as much as possible for it. You risk foreclosure by choosing an agent that doesn’t set a price that is guaranteed to bring in immediate offers. If, on the other hand, the agent suggests pricing the house 10 percent below current market value, you are most likely working with a pro.