HARDSHIP LETTERS; ARE TEAR STAINS REALLY NECESSARY?
Thirteen years ago when I did my first short sale in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan; the seller and I sat down together and wrote a 6 page, handwritten novella about the grief and tragedy she had faced in the prior 12 months. She cried, I cried and by the time we were finished, the papers were smeared and wrinkled from the pain dripping onto those pages.
We overnighted the orginal letter to the VP of the region for the bank (the only one handling the 3 short sales for that year) and he called personally to tell her how sorry he was for her situation.
Today, as I assist sellers in Wichita, KS; I think the hardship letter is more of a "check-mark on a file" than an actual factor in a successful short sale. That doesn't mean that I don't think they are important. A hardship letter is the only thing that conveys the actual emotions of the seller to the bank. Everything else is basically about money. But I think they are far more important for a seller's "healing process" than for the bank.
Usually, I have my seller tell me their story: How did things go from "its great and I love my house to everything is horrible and I have to get out of here." Once they tell me their story, which is usually disjointed and bounces around a lot, I compose a Hardship Letter from their words. Restating their words, I can create a letter than has a finite time line, a clear version of actual events and conveys the desperation of the seller.
Rarely are they more than a page or so and never are they handwritten anymore. Most negotiators tell me that as long as they have it for the file, they are fine. I doubt if they are even really read by anyone at the bank these days.
Once composed, I have the seller read it and we change whatever they don't like. Usually, when they read their story; its as if they are seeing what they have lived through for the first time. They become more committed to helping me and more grateful because I truly understand what they have been through.
So, even though the Hardship Letter might not be the most important part for bank, it is the most important for the seller. It's a healing, a fresh start and the solidification of a raving fan!