Short Sale Saga: Don't Shoot the Messenger
Date: Feb. 2, 2009
Most of us are familiar with a shooting gallery, you know, with the ducks that move across the screen... er, I mean range. There are usually several rows, with some rows moving faster and others slower. If one of the rows happens to stop, then you have a sitting duck (okay, I just made that up, what you really have is a dead duck).
To me, and to those brave souls who volunteer to sit on an MLS committee, short sale listings are like the ducks in a shooting gallery - a moving target. It seems like we just get a handle on this relatively new phenomena when something else comes up and we have to reevaluate our position. The best and most recent example of this is the policy regarding short sales under contract. The MLS committees have been very deliberative in their consideration of short sales (and I say "committees" because the Commercial MLS Committee played a big part in crafting a policy). Every recommendation that either group submitted to the Board of Directors was thoroughly debated as its members considered all of the ramifications of their actions. To all of their credit, the handling of short sales in the ECAR MLS system is as good a solution as any, and better than many. But the target keeps moving. Reports from the field indicate that "this" is now happening or "that" is now occurring. Everyone is frustrated because the lenders' policies change (not to mention their seeming inability to get a deal done). A successful transaction relies heavily on the listing Realtor's relationship with the lender. All of this happens in an environment of stress and perceived personal failure. So, when the MLS Committee was presented with a passionate plea to allow short sales under contract to remain active, the debate was intense. The issue actually had to be continued to a special meeting. And this was not the first discussion on contingent short sales. Ultimately, in light of the seller's plight and news of continued change in lender policy, the MLS Committee agreed to allow these listings to remain active. But the row of ducks moved, and it didn't take long before I started to feel like we were on one of the rows that stopped. Ultimately it took a visit from the Good Father Chesser to help us straighten things out. It seemed fitting since the Good Father (that's with two O's... we'll have none of THAT) had been our point person in the past when trying to get short sales in our sites (I'm beginning to regret using this analogy). Just so you don't think this is totally worthless dribble (or at least no more so than usual), I'll answer a couple of questions that may have come to mind. Please note that even if you don't list short sales, please read the answer to #1 since it calls on you to take action. 1. If I have to place a short sale listing in contingent or pending status, how do I continue to market the listing like it indicates in the addendum? This question has a two-part answer. First, it's important to understand that, although the MLS is an avenue to market a listing, it is not the only avenue (it's also important to realize that marketing a listing is not the primary purpose of the MLS). Secondly, and this is the part of the answer relies on everyone participating, if you put the listing in Contingent status, those agents with buyers looking for short sales will know that they should search Contingent listings too. 2. What was the overriding factor that caused the MLS Committee to change its mind? For legal reasons, I try never to discuss how a committee or the Board of Directors reached a decision, but thanks for asking. 3. What are you, some kind of an idiot? Answer my question! Okay, since you pressed, with answer #2 in mind, I will share with you what I think was the overriding issue, but keep in mind this in no way represents what the MLS Committee was thinking. Because our attorney recommended that we not allow them to be left in active status. I think everyone understands that there is a lot at stake here. It would be nice to think that every one of you could be the "Super Realtor" that swoops in and saves the day. Hang on to that thought. But also remember that there are (at least) two sides to every transaction. You have to be sure that neither the buyer nor the seller feel like the sitting duck. By the way, the February 2009 Florida Realtor Magazine has a good article on short sales. Check it out here.