Tuesday, September 9, 2008

No, Real Estate DOES Still Suck

Still no progress on the home we want to buy at short sale; the listing agent keeps promising "a few more days" on the bank's decision, yet gets snippy with our agent for "bugging" him when he doesn't return calls. I'm beginning to have my suspicions that the sellers are still making their mortgage payments and have yet to go delinquent.

If the bank is Litton Loan Servicing (and from courthouse research the last mortgage deed of trust was with a bank which went under shortly thereafter but whose SEC filings show Litton as servicing their remaining loan portfolio), I have read that they often encourage prospective short-sellers to keep making payments and that they'll go ahead and consider/approve the sale. NOT! This is a lie by the bank to keep getting a few more dollars from the sellers before foreclosure--though you can't blame the bank for trying to make more money when you're asking them to take a loss. But if the listing agent has advised them to keep making payments, listening to the bank's "advice," he's a fool, and we could be in for a long wait indeed. The bank has absolutely no incentive to approve a short sale while the loan is not delinquent.

Anyway, that rant aside, Beth and I did a drive-through of the neighborhood we're targeting and checked up on several of the homes we've followed, including the one we lost twice due to my bad townhouse buyer. You see, that home had never shown up in the Fairfax County land records as having been sold, despite the seller kicking us to the curb in favor of another offer despite our assurances we could close on-schedule and that the townhouse sale closure was imminent (the buyer's bank had, after all, committed the funds; it was only a matter of getting a few papers signed and the checks disbursed). So we were understandably curious what had happened.

Lo and behold, we noticed a "For Sale By Owner" sign out front, along with a "For Rent" sign, and a search of Craigslist showed the original seller was indeed trying to rent it out! Why hadn't they checked back with us to see if we were still interested, we wondered?

Our agent did some checking, and indeed, the sale they'd kicked us to the curb with did fall through, because the seller refused to compromise on the price (and, in retrospect, he's overpriced by at least $18k for the current market, given some of the work that needs to be done like a new breaker box and upgraded electrical service, insulation, and double-paned windows).

Needless to say, this information does not thrill me in the least. Though our originally-targeted home could now be our backup should this short sale drag out much longer, there is absolutely no way I am going to give the seller the price he wants; materially, it's too high given the work that needs to be done (and that doesn't include cosmetic stuff like removing the wall-to-wall carpet he for some reason installed over decent wood floors, refinishing the floors from the carpet installation's damage, erecting a fence around the yard, etc.) And I feel somewhat vindictive as well that we were kicked to the curb twice on that home by the seller; once for a lower-priced offer simply due to our sale-of-home contingency, then again for another lower-priced offer despite assurances (in writing, including the funds commitment letter from my buyer's lender) that we would be able to remove said contingency within a matter of days.

Sigh. Real estate still sucks.

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