Working with short sale properties has become an art. I have written offers to purchase dozens of homes, contingent upon lender approval, in other words, a short sale. Less than one out of twelve has successfully closed.

I have witnessed a lot of blame pointed at the banks, rather the agencies, who process short sales for the banks. They claim it takes a long time, or the agency never responds. These are the deals that will never be completed.

I have also listed a number of short sales. I have been in the position of supplying, what seems like a never ending stream of paperwork to bank affiliates. I know the process takes a large amount of time, patience, and attention to detail. This is why I know short sales require a highly dedicated and motivated agent.

Following is a brief list of the information required to initiate the process of a short sale.

Comparable Market Assessment (CMA) to estimate value
Search and Hold / Title Report
Listing Questionnaire Regarding Title Issues
Net Sheet to project Seller’s Proceeds / Deficits
Mortgage terms and conditions

Forbearance agreements to temporarily suspend loan payments
Repayment plans with the Seller’s Lender(s)
Loan Modification
Refinancing with the Seller’s lender

Listing Contract and Addendum SSL
Seller authorization to negotiate with Seller’s Lender(s)

Pay Studs and W-2 forms
Bank statements
Financial Statements
Cash Flow Analysis
Hardship Letter

As you can see by the above list, short sales require a large amount of paperwork. The main reason most short sales fail is due to incomplete or missing forms. Unless the Lender has a complete file, there is no chance of proceeding to the next level.

Be aware, entering into a short sale requires disclosure of sensitive financial documents. For this reason it is important to deal only with local, state licensed individuals with fiduciary duties. This means, they have license agreements with the state, agreeing to safeguard your personal information. Many Internet web sites will do nothing more than gather your personal information and sell it to anyone willing to pay.

Before considering a short sale, talk to a local HUD authorized agency. These agencies are experts in the field. These services are often free. More than 80% of their clients have lost money on Internet scams before contacting them.

I have no problem admitting my limitations. I do not list homes for short sales. I have worked with a number of agents specializing in short sales in Milwaukee, Menomonee Falls, Brown Deer, Greenfield, West Allis, Franklin, Oak Creek, Hales Corners, Germantown and other parts of Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Washington Counties. I would be happy to talk with you about your situation, and begin the initial process. Once we have gathered all the facts, and exhausted possible options, I will make a recommendation for the agent whom I feel is best equipped to handle your particular situation.

That’s right, just like the title says – there are some houses purchased as foreclosures and flipped. Some of those houses may have seen severe mold problems. I’ve seen a few of these. I’ve been asked to list some. My response has been, “we have to disclose problems that may severely effect property value.” Seller’s response has been, “I’ll look for another agent.” It doesn’t take much for investors to find Real Estate Agents who don’t ask questions.

How do you protect yourself against those types of issues? Most of the time its not that difficult. Many REO properties with mold problems can only be viewed after signing a release. Any Real Estate Agent worth a plate of beans will be smart enough to look at the property history on the MLS to get an idea of how much the seller paid for the property. A quick look at the old listing will tell if it had a release for mold attached to the listing. After all, if the Real Estate Agent your working with represents you, don’t you think they should be looking out for your best interest? This is one reason why it’s important for a Buyer to have an Agent represent them.

Don’t expect your Agent to do miracles on price. It all depends on the quality of the work done on the property and what buyers are willing to pay in the area. Most foreclosed properties have few if any pictures which makes it difficult to gauge the amount of work done on the property. If the property did have a mold release form attached to the listing, the seller should have proof of proper mold removal by a licensed or certified professional. After all, the seller has to pay income taxes on profits from the sale and a deduction would come in handy. Common sense tells you the repairs should be accounted for.

An experienced Real Estate Agent will be able to walk into a remodeled home and assess the quality of the repairs. After viewing hundreds of foreclosed and remodeled homes in the area, Agents are familiar with the quality of repairs and sometimes the investor doing the work. Real Estate Agents are not licensed to perform a complete inspection or tell you if repairs are up to local codes or not, but can point out questions to bring up to the licensed inspector of your choice. Buyers are often surprised at details that come up when they have a new set of trained eyes looking over the property. This is why its so important to work with a good Real Estate Agent and hire a good inspector.