Obama Administration Announced New Uniform Process for Short Sales

20 05 2009

Help is on the way for many homeowners who are facing foreclosure, thanks to new details under the Making Home Affordable Program just announced by the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

I think it’s time the government steps in to help homeowners and those wishing to buy a home to prevent foreclosures by streamlining the short-sale and deeds-in-lieu process. Stabilizing the housing market is critical to our economic recovery so we need all the help we can get in today’s challenging economy.

Short sales occur when a bank agrees to let homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. Many families are finding themselves with a mortgage that is higher than their current home value and they are struggling. As a Realtor, I know that the extensive delay in the short sale process had caused many buyers to go elsewhere and have left many would-be sellers with no option but foreclosure.

The Making Home Affordable Program is designed to help homeowners obtain modifications to their loan so they can afford to stay in their home. Where a modification is not possible, new incentives encourage the “quick private sale or voluntary transfer of property, which will save homeowners money and protect their financial future,” according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The following is a press release from The National Association of REALTORS (NAR)that the Obama Administration has announced new incentives and uniform procedures for short sales under its new Foreclosure Alternatives Program (FAP). For borrowers who do not qualify to have their loans modified on a permanent basis under the Making Home Affordable Loan Modification Program, the servicer may consider a short sale or, if that is not successful, a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Borrowers (Homeowners). Borrowers/homeowners qualify under the FAP if they meet minimum eligibility requirements for the Home Affordable Modification program, but don’t qualify for a modification or do not successfully complete the three-month trial period. Before proceeding with a foreclosure, servicers must determine if a short sale is appropriate.

Incentives. Incentives include: $1,000 for servicers for successful completion of a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure; $1,500 for borrowers/homeowners to help with relocation expenses; and up to $1,000 toward the cost of paying junior lien holders to release their liens (one dollar from the government for every $2 paid by the investors to the second lien holders).

Standardized Documents. The program will include streamlined and standardized documents, including a Short Sale Agreement and an Offer Acceptance Letter. The goal is to minimize complexity and increase use of the short sale option.

Property Valuation by Appraisal or BPO. Servicers will independently establish both property value and minimum acceptable net return, in accordance with investor requirements. The price may be determined based on an appraisal or one or more broker price opinions (BPOs), issued no more than 120 days before the date of the short sale agreement.

Timeline. In the Short Sale Agreement, servicers must give borrowers/homeowners at least 90 days to market and sell the property, or up to one year, depending on market conditions. Property must be listed with a licensed real estate professional with experience in the neighborhood. No foreclosure may take place during the marketing period (at least 90 days) specified in the Short Sale Agreement.

Commissions. The Short Sale Agreement must specify the reasonable and customary real estate commissions and costs that may be deducted from the sales price. The servicer must agree not to negotiate a lower commission after an offer has been received.

No Borrower Fees. Servicers may not charge fees to borrowers/homeowners for participating in the FAP.

Program Expiration. The program is in effect through 2012.

Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure Option. Servicers have the option to require the borrower/homeowner to agree to deed the property to the servicer in exchange for a release from the debt if the property does not sell within the time allowed in the Short Sale Agreement (plus any extensions).

Visit http://www.treasury.gov for detailed information on the program changes.

Printed by Permisson of National Association of REALTORS.

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