The Treasury's HAFA program finally has something positive to offer in the way of national news. In December of last year, John Prior of Housingwire.com reported that less than 700 HAFA sales had been completed since April 5th of 2010 when the program began. That embarrassing news started a ripple effect of closed-door meetings with the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, NAR's Distressed Property Task Force, mortgage servicer representatives, and an assortment of other short sale industry insiders. Supplemental Directives 10-18 and 11-02 have both been released since December 2010, and each bring with them several new and positive changes (with the exception of SD 11-02's extension of the servicer's timeline to respond to HAFA requests...but that's a whole different blog topic).
For the last several months, Realtors, servicers, and homeowners have been hard at work trying to make the best of this program. I have personally closed eight HAFA sales, and each one has a horror story to go with it! Needless to say, it has been challenging. Many Realtors don't know this, but the major servicers ALL run every submission through a HAFA underwriting process before a negotiator is even assigned. Servicers are seemingly motivated to send short sale submissions down the HAFA stream as often as possible. Presumably it has something to do with a.) being publicly shamed, or b.) the $1,500 - $2,200 incentive for closed HAFA transactions. HAFA is no longer a long shot. One way or another, the servicer or the homeowner will bring it up. And, you'd better be ready to have an intelligent conversation about it when that opportunity presents itself.
So, what was the good news about HAFA? Simply that in one month's time, HAFA closings surged by 73.7% in April according to the Treasury's latest report. The actual numbers were 1,666 in April versus 959 in March of 2011. Wow! It is hard to imagine that this trend won't continue. Is it possible that this program is finally picking up steam? There are almost 8,000 more HAFA transactions that have been started that may close sometime in the next 120 days.
What does all this mean? Well, for Realtors it means that HAFA is proving to be a program worth becoming more than a little familiar with. The Realtors that have been on the fence with acquiring formal of HAFA education might want to rethink their strategy. If HAFA is anything like its bigger, older brother HAMP, we can look forward to more improvements, tweaks, and increased closings in the next 18 months. HAFA may not be a game changer yet (inside joke), but it definitely is changing the rules of short sales...
PartnerFirst and it's team of educational content writers recently received eight CE credit hours by the California DRE for their HSC (HAFA Specialist Certification) online training, which is the most notable, nationally recognized training for Realtors on HAFA.