Pre-Approved Short Sales and Pipe Dreams

Real Estate Broker Owner with Broadpoint Properties Cal BRE #01324959

pre-approved short saleRumors, just like viruses, spread like wildfire. And, of course, since I reside in San Diego County, I have my own experiences with wildfire. Like wildfire, there were waves of rumors spread throughout 2011 about the pre-approved short sale.

Here’s are some James Joyce-style musings on pre-approved short sales: 

Often times, pre-approved means that the bank now rules the roost. The bank can dictate terms (including commission), and can also request that the terms and conditions for marketing the property (including the number of open houses required).

Another challenge of the pre-approved short sale is that the bank(s) may not approve of certain types of buyers (such as corporate entities or limited partnerships). Of course, this is wildly ironic since it is the seller who owns the property and accepts the purchase agreement, while the bank merely ratifies the sale. 

When I hear agents at caravan pitch their homes as approved short sales, I know that there is more to the equation. Yes, there was a time when you could substitute a short sale buyer at the same terms and conditions and get a new short sale approval letter in a day or two, but these times are getting fewer and further between. With Equator (and Bank of America), you can request a soft decline and the next buyer’s offer is processed more quickly—but the same terms and conditions may not be accepted by the bank.

The HAFA program (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) does offer two different mechanisms—one of which includes submitting a package without an offer and waiting for a pre-approved purchase price. Many short sale aficionados do not care for this kind of pre-approved short sale. These agents have noted that the process (and the processing) is exceedingly slow and the approved prices are often not in line with existing market values. 

Bank of America also has a Cooperative Short Sale Program, which offers a pre-approved short sale. Coming up on its first anniversary, this program was said to offer approvals and pre-approvals in record time. Yet, the program seems plagued by the very same problems as the HAFA program (slow processing times, dictated and inflexible terms, an exceedingly high list price).

While 2012 is definitely the year of the short sale, pre-approved short sales whereby a short sale is approved in a week or so (and you just have to find a buyer) are still just a pipe dream for short sale agents.


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  1. Roseanne Campagna 01/08/2012 02:31 PM
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Comments 12 New Comment

Bill Gassett
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate
RE/MAX Executive Realty

I guess I have been fortunate enough not to see the type of pre-approved short sale you mention. Telling me when I am going to do an open house - YA RIGHT LOL!!

January 09, 2012 08:09 AM
Harley Wilcox
Harley Wilcox
West Group Real Estate

As goes the saying "The past does not always repeat itself". One thing for certain - change.

January 10, 2012 08:14 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Put 40 years of experience to work for you
Lyon Real Estate

There are so many different types of preapproved short sales, Melissa, it's very difficult for agents who don't work in that arena to know what it means. If a short sale is truly preapproved, such as certain types of HAFAs, for example, only the price is approved and you know that the seller's situation qualifies. However, the seller's situation can change and the price doesn't include always, for instance, a closing cost credit. There is no slam dunk.

January 10, 2012 10:55 AM
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc.

Melissa - I love receiving short sale approval, but an "approved short sale" can sometimes give false hope.

January 10, 2012 11:01 AM
Michael J. Perry
Lancaster Relo Specialist
RE/MAX Associates of Lancaster, PA.

A couple of years ago I had great hopes for the HAFA program, but it seems to be mired down !

January 12, 2012 08:34 AM

Melissa Zavala

Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County
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Broadpoint Properties