Case Study: Carmel Short Sale

Most transactions involve two brokers, the listing brokerage and the buyer (selling) brokerage. Without going down the rabbit hole of dual agency when the two are in the same company, the vast majority of transactions have two agents at the very least. The concept of one agent selling another agent’s listing is known as cooperation. This cooperation is the backbone of the MLS and, indeed, the real estate market itself, and in New York cooperation is mandated by law. Buyers have the right to be represented.

Levels of professional skill vary. That is a nice way of saying that some agents kind of stink. In this transaction, the broker representing the buyer was a trainwreck. This was a shock to me, as it was a fellow broker owner at the time, and one I knew from involvement at the Association of Realtors.

On our side, the marital home being sold was underwater, and therefore a short sale. To catch you up, a short sale occurs when the lender on a mortgage accepts less than what is owned due to hardship on the seller’s part and a decline in market value of the property. It takes several months to navigate what is known as the loss mitigation or approval process, and the seller widely took my advice and hired the short sale attorney I referred.

Now, it is one thing to deal with a difficult agent over the course of a typical 60 day transaction. It is quite another to be tethered to them for 10 months, as I was in the case. The short sale approval took 9 months, which was slightly longer than average for that time, and my clients were very much on their game. One principal was my point of contact, as the former spouse had deeded the home over. They were not on the mortgage, which simplified that part. The process was not without stress, but most of it was difficulty from the buyer’s broker.

Simply put, everything was unnecessarily difficult. Scheduling simple walk inspections and walk throughs, settling minor inspection matters, and even simple reminders about the short sale process were punctuated by uncalled for drama. In the beginning, this caught me off guard. I expected a higher level of professionalism.

When approvals were all finalized the buyer cleared to close, a parting shot of nonsense from the other broker resulted in a blistering response from our attorney that I have saved and was tempted to print and frame (I did not). I will not repeat what she said, but it was a thoroughly satisfying dressing down from an eloquent, knowledgeable person that got no response. My seller shared the sentiment about this guy. They deserved better- a short sale in a divorce is a hell of a rock to push uphill.

Later that year, I read that he closed his company and moved out of state to operate in another market. That venture has also since closed. I am not surprised.

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