I hear that phrase more often these days as more and more people who have been just barely hanging on by their fingernails finally get out of denial and call me about a possible short sale. These are not people who did anything wrong. They did not borrow frivolously, nor live extravagantly beyond their means. They are just regular people whose circumstances have changed; some through the loss of a loved one, some through the loss of a long-time job.
Most of these people were so sure that this would never happen to them that they entered a period of denial when those circumstances changed; sure that things would somehow change back and everything would be OK again, somehow. That really never happens. So they used what savings they had and perhaps borrowed against what retirement savings they had built up and now they realize that they are in trouble. They’ve started getting nasty letters from their mortgage company or other creditors.
This situation is especially hard on the elderly, who were brought up in a society that still put value on personal responsibility and paying one’s debts. Just the thought of being in this situation is too embarrassing for them to discuss easily, even with friends and family, much less a complete stranger. And yet they must get it out in the open in order to do something about it.
I have a web site – www.mishortsales.com – that they often find or that I send them to read. I tried to create that site to allow someone in this circumstance to have the ability to read, in anonymity – about the options that they might have in this situation. It’s not a fancy site, as I state on the opening page; but, there’s nothing fancy about this situation that brings people to it. It is just a few pages of straightforward information that I hope will help people better understand the options and make better choices for a course of action. I get lots of call from that site from people far out of my coverage area, so I refer them out to agents with short-sale experience on other areas. If they’re in my area I try to help.
As is pointed out in the reading material at the site, success with a short-sale is far from guaranteed. Many of the big banks are so inept at doing them that the foreclosure departments from the same bank often win the race to see who can take the house first. Bank that took bailout money from the government are also required to offer alternatives such as loan modifications, but many of the big banks have also figured out ways to get around those laws by selling off the servicing of those loans to smaller companies. The fat cats will always find a way to game the system.
So, while the real estate market is improving, short-sales and foreclosures still make up about 40% of all sales locally and I will continue to get those calls from people who never thought they would be in that position. I’ll help if I can.