cryingIt’s one of my favorite movies and one of the best movie lines ever written. It comes from “A League of Their Own” and casts the oh-so-magnificent Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up baseball coach made to lead an all women’s baseball team during WWII. If you don’t know the line and the movie, you’ve missed something important. Really.

Short-sales are the ever-popular bargain-aisle specials of real estate. And who doesn’t love a bargain? The seller is upside-down and needs/wants/decides to move on. Likely he or she has already “notified” their lender of their need for special assistance by making a late payment… or two… or three. And, the lender, ever-eager to avoid the legal morass and expenses of a foreclosure (they take, on average, over 600-days in CT) and, thus, the more orderly process of a short-sale should seem the more attractive fork in the road.

Except that it ain’t necessarily so.

For a whole host of reasons, starting with the fiduciary duty that the servicer has to the investors in the mortgage pool that owns the seller’s mortgage, the process is tedious, rule-bound, and as transparent as concrete. And, as a buyer, you get not one shred of information about the seller’s lender’s review of your offer. It’s always a shock when, 3 or 4 months after you’ve submitted a contract to the lender, the bank comes back and says “No,” or, worse yet, forecloses on the property without alerting you beforehand.

House model with chat bars and calculator isolated on whiteNot all that long ago, I worked with a young couple who were relocating from New York to Eastern CT. They found the perfect home – a short-sale – and negotiated their deal with the seller. Confident that all was going to move along briskly, they sold their home, moved with their 3 small children to her parents’ home, and then sat for 9 long months while the short-sale approval ground along.

When closing day finally arrived, the realtor told me that it was very touching when the father started crying. I said “Those were tears of joy, Tammy” and once we’d both stopped chuckling, we both agreed that short-sales are neither short nor are they meant for the faint of heart.

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