Short sales in the Northern Virginia market aren’t new. They were around in previous down markets with a different twist. Sellers actually had to come to the money with the table to close the deal or sign a promissory note to cover the difference. Sellers sucked it up and did it in order to move on.
Today the amount of money that most sellers are upside down keeps that from being a realistic scenario. However there is a train wreck coming and it isn’t about the number of short sales or a tsunami of foreclosures but instead the way real estate agents are handling the deals.
There are a lot of agents running around Northern Virginia suggesting they are “short sale experts” when in fact that don’t even understand how a contract is written and ratified. This week while working through multiple offers for buyers I encountered not one, not two but three agents who “ratified” contracts when the buyer’s offer had clearly been countered by the seller.
In one cases the agent even wrote on the contract that instead of agreeing to our subsidy request that they would let the lender determine the amount. Say what? Anyone who works with short sales or foreclosures knows the lender will say ZERO if you give them an opportunity. This isn’t a ratified contract but a counter offer. Yet this contract went to the bank as part of a short sale package.
It doesn’t take much if you get a group of agents together to hear the horror stories of these types of examples and many far worse. There is going to be a major collision between agents who know what they are doing and agents who are unresponsive and far worse. It will be interesting to see the listing agent explain to their client when the home goes to foreclosure why the contract they thought was ratified in reality was not.
It is time for standards to be in place and enforced by the associations to keep the entire industry from getting a black eye. Otherwise the collision between the two sides that are forming among agents is not going to be pretty.