Monday, December 18, 2017

One-on-one Sphere of Influence Strategies with Senior Vice President Ken Bennett

By Julie Escobar

Since we’re exploring the must-have skill of building a sphere of influence this month, I thought it would be fun and enlightening to turn to my good friend Ken Bennett for his two-cents! As someone who has been in this business for 34 years and as an agent, manager, general manager and now Senior Vice President at one of the most respected companies in the business, Watson Realty Corp., I knew he’d have a thing or two to say about the strategies successful agents are using to thrive in ANY market. When you want to know the REAL skinny on how to succeed, ask someone who’s literally been there, done that in markets of every size, shape and economic level.

Here’s a look inside our interview…

Q: Hey Ken – as always, it’s WONDERFUL to catch up with you. I thought of you immediately when we were broaching the subject of sphere of influence. You’ve got such a wide spectrum of experience to draw from as an agent and from a management perspective I knew you could help shed a little light on best practices! Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and the team that works with you at Watson?

A: Good to be able to talk with you again and yes, I’d be happy to tell your readers a little bit about myself and our Watson Realty team. I was first licensed to sell real estate in Northern Virginia/Washington, DC, in 1977, and had a very successful career in sales for seven years before obtaining my broker’s license and entering into management in 1984. Although, I enjoyed sales tremendously, I found my niche in general brokerage management and have been doing it ever since. To make a long story somewhat shorter, I relocated to Florida in 1994 and eventually went to work for Watson Realty Corp., one of the country’s largest independent companies with forty offices throughout the state of Florida and Georgia, and upwards of 1,200 sales associates. Our company is a prominent member of The Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LREC) and has been in business since 1965.

Q: I for one am glad you did migrate south! How else would we have gotten to know you? As one of the most respected (and funniest- just saying!) VPs in this business, I venture to say there’s not much you haven’t seen. Good markets, bad markets, (REALLY bad markets) and agents of every kind. In terms of the agents that have risen to the top and STAYED there – would you say making their sphere of influence or referral base their top priority is the biggest common denominator?

A: In a word, yes. Most real estate trainers and educators stress the importance with new licensees of focusing on their Sphere of Influence (SOI) as a way to generate business as they start off in their new career field. Family, friends, acquaintances, literally everyone that they know can be very helpful in getting a new sales associate off to a quick start. That said, it’s critically important for the new associate to continue to grow or expand that SOI each day as their initial list is normally somewhat small and will not sustain a career over an extended period of time. In terms of the top experienced sales associates throughout the country, most all of them have become masters of growing their SOI through networking and as such, enjoy working off of personal referrals from within that SOI. Some of the top associates I have known over the years effectively maintain and profit from a SOI of literally thousands of individuals and accordingly, don’t have to spend nearly the time as they used to in terms of cultivating new business leads or prospects.

Q: You’re so right. What is that statistic? It takes six times the money and energy to generate new clients versus maintaining the relationships you already have? That said, what would you say are the top three strategies agents use to consistently stay in touch with and grow their sphere?

A: Well, there are several ways to do it but I’ll mention the three that I’ve seen used most prominently and in fact have used myself. First, I would have to say that my experience with most successful sales associates, given their hectic schedules and heavy workloads, are not the best at keeping in consistent touch with their SOI. They all start off with good intentions in wanting to follow-up with past clients on the phone and/or with newsletters, but somehow the job just doesn’t get done consistently and consistency is the key here. Once they realize that it’s difficult to be effective with their client follow up, they get someone else to do it for them! There are several well-known national companies that will gladly take on this task for a sales associate for a small transaction based fee, and send out numerous mailings/e-mailings over a period of several years in the sales associate’s name. Every time a mailing goes out to the past client, the associate is notified by the company and then they have a reason to call that past client… call reluctance, or the sales associates inability to make a follow-up sales call to a former client, is usually based in their feeling that they don’t have anything to say to the past client and/or they don’t want to intrude into their private time at home. Through this type of program, that problem or obstacle has been removed. In fact, many of our associates use your MLSmailings.com program to automatically send their Just Listed and Just Sold postcards automatically!

Next, I would say that a well-organized Social Networking program is very effective in today’s market.

Terrific Tips from the “Give Back Girl”

By Julie Escobar

To wrap up our series of short sale interviews, I turned to another Facebook friend who’s confidence, capability and compassion caught my eye.  Known as the “Give Back Girl” because of her charity work – Gloria Commiso has much to share…

Let’s learn:

Q:  First of all – Thanks so much for sharing your “secrets” with us!  Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose short sales as your niche?

A:  Yes!  I’m a Keller Williams Agent licensed for six years. I was the former wife of a Real Estate Broker but I wasn’t licensed until after we got divorced.  It was an easy choice to get into Real Estate because it gave me a flexible schedule that I needed as a single mom.  Besides — I love it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else except charity work.  My slogan is the “giveback girl.” I give a portion of every check to one or more charities. Last year, with the support of KW and Borders Bookstores, I helped to build a small library for an organization called “School on Wheels” in downtown Los Angeles. The facility tutors foster and homeless children. I got involved in real estate because I wanted to facilitate change in people’s lives. It also allowed me to combine my passions of helping people and interior decorating.

I didn’t exactly choose short sales; they choose me through my referral partners. I have a graduate back ground in “Negotiating and Integrative Bargaining.”  Short sales require so many layers of negotiating and follow up/persistence that this seemed like a good fit.  One of my motivations to assist homeowners in distress was to assist my own clients. (I started assisting in modifications for a couple of past clients but luckily none of my past clients have had to sell short.)  I began to realize that many agents didn’t want or know how to approach them. One by one, agents would call and ask me to co-list or assist with a short sale. Over the past three years I have closed 100% of all my standard short sales. The only one I couldn’t close was a “strategic” new construction short sale. The banks foreclosed because the construction loan was not in place for one year.

Q:  What do you believe is important for distressed homeowners to know SOONER rather than later in today’s swiftly changing economy?

A:  What’s really important for homeowners to know is that the longer they wait the less options and more stress they have. It’s also important for them to know that agents aren’t accountants, lawyers or financial planners so they must get advice from one or more of the aforementioned professionals before deciding to execute a short sale. They must understand all the options and liabilities.

Q:  How are you reaching out to distressed homeowners and letting them know that there are options available to them?  How can a new agent getting into short sales find those homeowners who really need help?

A:  I’ve been reaching out to homeowners in distress through past clients, blogging and also through my referral partners by passing out contact and program information for government websites. I wouldn’t advise agents to target these people unless they have adequate training: either CDPE classes, HAFA training, SFR courses or some type of extended education.  Most of my referrals come from other agents and attorneys. I haven’t advertised my services for short sales –I just take referrals.

Q:  What kind of stats have you seen in terms of the rise of short sale in your market and nationwide?

A:  We have seen a steady increase in short sales peaking last year. One of my standard sales was in the city of Lawndale which at the time was 98% distressed w REOs, short sales and foreclosures. I don’t see them tapering off anytime soon and it’s about the same as last year…slow and steady in the Beach Cities South of LAX. The majority of mine have been in Hawthorne, Torrance, and areas east of the beach.

Q:  What kind of training has been key in helping you stand out in your community as a short sale specialist?

A:  I have taken a CDPE course that my company offered and I took a HAFA certification course recently because the guidelines change very fast. I also read all the CAR and NAR legal updates and now that the FTC is involved, I have been immersed in MARS (Mortgage Assistance Relief Servicers) information. The best training though is on-the- job-training.  I’ve shorted or assisted in  negotiating loan modifications with Wells Fargo, Union Bank, BofA, JP Morgan CHASE, Countrywide, Kinecta, Aurora, Chevy Chase.

Q:  Just as I did in our previous article with Nicole Fabiano – I’d love to do a little “myth busting” for distressed homeowners – can you give me say the top three or four misconceptions consumers may have about short sales and foreclosures and what they really should know?

A:  Absolutely!  Myth Buster #1: Short Sales are all a nightmare! If a seller is cooperative and motivated it doesn’t have to be painful BUT you do have to be thorough.  The bank has to have certain documentation packaged (Cover sheet, listing agreement, loan authorization, short sale addendum, MLS profile, hardship letter, financial worksheet, past 2 years tax returns, last 3 paycheck stubs, last 3 checking/savings account statements, seller net sheet, HUD, most recent property tax bill, comparable sales and a property condition report if necessary. If you have retained an offer then also send the Purchase agreement, proof of funds, preapproval and FICO information.

If the agent is consistent with communication and documents all conversations you have a better chance at getting a negotiator to look at the file. There are ways you can package a file that will get the attention of the bank. A good cover sheet with Clients’ name, loan number, listing agent, broker, and settlement officer’s info and contact numbers for all parties is critical. (Loan number should be referenced on all documentation. Also, when dealing with banks on the east coast I get up at 5am to be one of the first calls to check status. If I’m dealing with an attorney or negotiator I copy him on all emails.  Negotiators pay attention when attorneys are involved.  In addition, request the following from the seller: all paperwork signed, completed and include all debt including pre-payment penalties, liens, back due property taxes, HOA back dues, IRS liens, etc.

In addition, cooperation is a must the agent has to insist on the following: a lock box, showing hours, a clean home at all times, access for showings/open houses. Next, agents should carry their phones at all times so they don’t miss a call. Program the bank numbers in your phone and set a ring tone for the negotiator! (Don’t miss a call!) If you do call back ASAP.  Call response time is critical to converting a short sale to sold! If the seller is difficult to get a hold of or travels, see if you can get a power of attorney.  Scan all documents so you have remote access in case the bank needs a copy of something. Get the short sale approval document signed as soon as the bank sends it and send it back w signatures from all parties. Have access to a mobile notary. Make sure you have an escrow officer that is familiar with short sales and can correct a HUD at a moment’s notice.

Myth Buster #2: Your agent can decide for you whether you should short sale. The best way to find out who the professionals are is by hearing this come out of the agent’s mouth before even putting pen to paper. “Have you talked to a tax advisor, accountant or attorney about your liabilities?” In the case of HAFA an agent isn’t even allowed to give the paperwork to the seller. The seller has to call to initiate the HAMP and HAFA and download paperwork from the website.

Myth Buster #3: The bank approves the short sale! The bank in many cases is just the loan servicer. Actually, many loans were sold to investors and it is the investor that makes the decision to approve the negative. That’s part of the reason that it takes so long. First you apply for the short sale then the bank processes your offer internally. Next they contact the investor to see if he will agree. If there are two loans w two different banks it takes time.

Myth Buster #4: The bank doesn’t want to cooperate! Well this is true in some cases — but the reality is that most banks want to do everything they can to come to an agreement – many just don’t have the manpower to deal with the volume of people in crisis. Also, since no one really understood the magnitude of the housing crisis, banks just weren’t staffed and training was happening simultaneously while the banks were deluged with a high volume of short sale and modification requests.

Myth  Buster #5: If I short sell, I can just walk away. Not true.  Some banks are asking for seller contributions in a promissory note. Also, the mortgage debt tax relief applies to people who are short selling their primary residence and has other criteria’s that a seller must meet.

Q:  Great information!  What’s your best advice for agents coming into the field of short sales in terms of arming themselves with the right information to not just succeed in their market – but truly protect their client’s best interests as well?

A:  My advice to any agent getting involved in short sales is to get CDPE training and continue getting extended education because the laws keep changing. Also, shadow an agent that is actively negotiating several short sales at a time. Set expectations with the seller in regards to time frames and processing requirements. Take really good notes and keep a good communication log. If you use a third party negotiator make sure you are both MARS compliant. Have the negotiator copy you on every deal. Have regular updates so you always know what’s going on with the file. Program dates into your calendar, contingency periods, nod periods, short sale approval date and expiration date. Use a system and stay organized. Stay in touch with the client. Know the laws in regards to marketing and be MARS compliant.

Q:  What’s the best part about being a short sale specialist for you?  What’s most rewarding?

A:  The best thing about closing a short sale is relieving someone of the debt that is causing stress and crisis in their lives. In essence, closing a short sale is giving someone their life back and helping them make a fresh start!

Here’s some resources you may find useful: MARS includes any service, plan or program offered or provided in exchange for consideration on behalf of the consumer (I’m assuming consideration to be “money”), that is represented, expressly or by implication, to assist or attempt to assist the consumer” in negotiating a modification of any term of a loan or obtain other types of relief to avoid delinquency or foreclosure.   For more info go to  http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2010/11/mars.shtm

Our jobs are to both to sell and assist homeowners in retaining their homes when possible. Here is some contact information to pass along to distressed homeowners who want to know what their options are.

Free counseling www.hud.gov Or call the hope hotline: 888-995-HOPE press one for English.  Home ownership preservation is in partnership w the government. Have the loan number and mortgage details available. You can also file a complaint here if you feel you have been a victim of a foreclosure prevention fraud. I called this morning and i got through in a matter of minutes.

Federal modification, refinance and short sale programs:

www.makinghomeaffordable.gov

The HAFA program gives sellers up to$3k credit at the close of escrow for relocating. If a servicer is participating in HAFA they must also offer HAMP (loan modification application). If a seller is denied a loan modification they can automatically apply for HAFA. The seller must contact the servicer to apply

Agents looking for answers – visit:  www.realtor.org/shortsales and contact your local board for accredited courses in short sales.

Wow Gloria – you’re a treasure trove of information!  Thank you so much for your time and insights!

If you’d like to learn more from Gloria – follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcommiso1.  While you’re there – be sure to follow us too at www.facebook.com/prospectsplus!

If you’d like to take a sneak peek at the brand new short sale templates we’ve just released for short sale specialists – visit our online gallery today here:  SHORT SALE TEMPLATES.  Be sure to use promo code SHORTSALE15 at checkout to save 15% off your order!  While you’re on the site, be sure to check out our resource section for collateral free reports including Seven Must Know Facts About Short Sales and Foreclosures and another that will be posting soon.

An Interview with Expert Sham Reddy

By Julie Escobar

With short sales the topic of day, I turned to an old friend and short sale expert Sham Reddy.  He was kind enough to share some of the secrets and strategies that have helped him not just survive but truly thrive for the long haul in this sometimes difficult niche market.

Let’s learn…

Q:  Hi Sham!  It’s been a while since we’ve talked, but I can see by your posts online that you’re out there doing what you do best – making life a little better for distressed property owners!  Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and why you chose short sales as your niche?

A:  My name is Sham Reddy and I’ve been a real estate consultant for18 years, currently with Real Living Realty Services in Dayton, OH.  I have always taken pride in thinking outside the box when it came to real estate.  I started working foreclosures and REOs for my personal portfolio in the mid 90’s when I was actively investing in real estate.  During that process, I came across the concept that lenders may be open to accepting short payoff in certain hardship situations for the borrowers.  I shared that information with our Cin-Day mentor group members and later teamed up with a fellow mentor group member, Bob Daniels and wrote a course to offer to the fellow REALTORS® as CE credits.  Together we offered Short sale courses for several franchised and independent real estate brokerages in Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. I have independently offered short sales courses to Ohio Auctioneer associations and Ohio association of CPA’s.

Q:  So, there’s not much you haven’t seen is there?   What’s different today about short sales than say – two years ago?

A:  For the beginners, there are a lot more opportunities available now because there are more loans in default.  There is also more training available for agents who wish to specialize in this niche like CDPE, and SFR.  You’ll also find that there is more awareness of this problem at the federal level where they created homeownership rescue plans like HAMP and HAFA.  There are quite a few agencies in the local communities that are helping homeowners with financial hardship to either save their homes or sell them short with the approval of their lenders.  Because of the high inventory of REOs, short sale listings are competing with foreclosed properties, driving the net proceeds to lenders way down.  Lenders are now devising methods to cut down on the response times with tracking systems like Equator which is being used by Bank of America and Wells Fargo to facilitate short sales.

Q:   Very interesting.  I’m sure you’ve had every question in the book asked of you by consumers in this situation.   What do you feel are five of the biggest MISCONCEPTIONS about short sales that consumers – whether they’re buyers or sellers and what do they really need to know?

A:  I have, let’s go through some of the most common:

  • First misconception is that the seller thinks that a bankruptcy filing will make everything go away.  What they don’t know is that bankruptcy may take away their financial liability of the deficiency; it may not necessarily keep them out of foreclosure.  This means they will have both a bankruptcy and a foreclosure on their credit resulting in a bigger hit on their personal credit score.
  • Secondly, sellers need to be communicating with the lenders AS SOON as they find themselves falling behind on payments.  It gives lenders various options to either save their home or give advice on deed in lieu or short sale procedures.
  • Thirdly, buyers do not take into consideration that on short sale offers, there are prolonged response times and they cannot get the sale closed like a normal sale.  Also the seller and buyer still have to execute contracts and all the disclosures like a regular sale, and that the lender holding the mortgage is not a party to the transaction.  The only decision lenders make is to agree to the amount of shortage they are willing to accept.
  • Fourth, some buyers try to treat short sales as REOs.  The big difference is that there are no attorneys involved on either side for most transactions.  The condition of the properties in short sales are more livable than REOs because more often than not, someone is still living at the property with most systems being functional or operational.
  • Lastly, buyers and sellers also need to understand that foreclosure process does not stop even if the short sale is underway,  because lenders don’t want to take the chance of short sale not closing and they have to restart the foreclosure process, which in some markets will add another 30-90 days to the process.

Q:  Thanks for sharing those!  What’s the number one thing distressed homeowners should look for when choosing a short sale specialist?

A:  Home owners that are facing a hardship need to look for referral from their friends or call the local real estate board, and ask for a referral to couple of agents in the area that specialize in short sales and have a decent track record in helping homeowners in those circumstances.  An agent with the right EXERIENCE and TRAINING can keep the homeowner get successfully through the process and find peace of mind.   Also look for an agent who can price the property attractive enough to get a few offers while tracking the foreclosure timeline to make sure they have time to avoid the foreclosure.

Q:   How are you finding/reaching distressed homeowners in your marketplace – can you give agents some ideas on how to market themselves?

A:  The best way for agents to find distressed homeowners is to make sure they market themselves as specialists in that niche.  Agents also need to make sure they network with other agents that specialize in short sales, take as many courses as possible and look towards getting a designation or certification like SFR, CDPE or Floyd Wickman’s Short Sale Survival Course.  It’s not unusual to get referrals from other real estate agents in or outside your market for distressed homeowners for short sale.  Another way to is to search court records at for foreclosure complaints, or records of notices of defaults (NOD), and follow up with letters, postcards and personal phone calls.  There are some paid sources (websites) available to get leads for short sales in their market area

Q:  What’s the number one thing agents should know about this niche BEFORE they decide to dive in?

A:  Before agents take on this challenging, time consuming and often frustrating process, it is to have a good understanding of the time lines involved in handling the short sales in relation to the foreclosure process timelines in their County, and also understanding well that despite their best efforts they may only close half of the short sales attempted.  Realtors should add short sales to their toolbox in addition to other tools, and not in place of other niches they practice.  Once again, make sure you are networking with short sale specialists in your market or across the country to keep up with ever-changing and evolving guidelines in this niche.

Thank you so much Sham for sharing your experience and ideas with our readers. As always, you bring great information to the table!  If you’d like to learn more about Sham or find out how he’s making the most of specializing in the short sale market, visit his site online at www.shamreddy.com or follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/ShamReddy and follow us on Facebook as well to stay up to date on this and other exciting niche markets at www.facebook.com/prospectsplus.

If you’d like to take a sneak peek at the brand new short sale templates we’ve just released for short sale specialists – visit our online gallery today here:  SHORT SALE TEMPLATES.  Be sure to use promo code SHORTSALE15 at checkout to save 15% off your order!  While you’re on the site, be sure to check out our resource section for collateral free reports including Seven Must Know Facts About Short Sales and Foreclosures and another that will be posting soon.

“Do No Harm Strategies” from Short Sale Experts Leonard Giarrano and Sandra Maslen

By Julie Escobar

It’s funny, when I started this series on short sales – the phrase Hippocratic Oath kept popping into my head – and then when I sat down to interview an old friend and extraordinary short sale expert Len Giarrano – it was one of the first things that he said.  Don’t you just love it when things come together?  For real estate professionals, especially those diving into the sometimes murky waters of short sales and foreclosures – taking the “first, do no harm” approach to business and clients is a top priority.

So when the topic came up, I took my questions to a man I’ve known and trusted in this business for more than 20 years.  When it comes to integrity and character – -this guy and his incredible partner, Sandra Maslen have it in spades.  So who better to ask?

Here’s an excerpt from our interview…

Q:  Hey Len!  Always happy to connect with you!  I’m excited to hear about your new partnership with Ms. Maslen here (Hi Sandra!) and what you two have been up to in terms of helping distressed homeowners once again find peace of mind.  First, why don’t you guys tell us a little about yourselves?

Len: Hi Julie, I’m always happy to connect with you as well and this topic really is something we’re passionate about.  For me, the American dream of home ownership sparked my real estate career 25 years ago!  I wanted to take some of the complexities that families were finding out of buying a home.  Then and now, I first seek to understand what each family needs and then find a way to create a solid course to help them reach that goal.  Helping households through the process of short sale is good business & makes customers for life.

Sandra: My background is actually in mortgage banking and real estate – and I think that’s really been wonderful experience to draw from when working with lenders on our client’s behalf.  Lenders and banks have a definite way of doing business – and while many agents get frustrated because banks want their deals done “in their way” – I can see the situation from the other side and do everything necessary to ensure that when our files hit the lender’s desk – they’re exactly what they’re looking for to expedite the process.

Q:  What’s important for distressed homeowners to know SOONER rather than later in today’s economy?

Len & Sandra: Well, one of the first things that people should know is that the banks don’t want your home back.  They want a vibrant economy and household like yours on your feet again – that’s profits everyone.  They would much rather work with you to resolve the situation.  They can recover assets – but it’s tough once it gets to the point of vacant, destroyed homes and neighborhoods.

So in terms of what they should do SOONER, first –don’t try to go it alone.  Find an agent or team with the CDPE designation and get a good, solid, accurate assessment of your situation so you know what your options are.  The CDPE training is so comprehensive and robust that it gives agents all the tools they need to first – as we said early – DO NO HARM – and secondly, provide the tools and the systems needed to help those homeowners once again find peace of mind.

Secondly, don’t wait until you’re down to your last dime and financially devastated to take action. For many of the homeowners we work with – there is such a sense of guilt and shame about their situation – so much so that people are too afraid or embarrassed to seek help.  They’re so overwhelmed and feel like they have to exhaust every penny they have to try to dig themselves out of a bad situation.  Our job is to make sure that each situation is diagnosed on its own merit for its own set of circumstances and to really advocate for those homeowners and provide them with choices that in most cases – they didn’t even know they had.

Q: How are you reaching out to distressed homeowners and letting them know that there are options available to them?

Talking Short Sales with and Industry Trend-Setter

By Julie Escobar

This month we’re going to be diving into the world of short sales and finding out for you what’s working, what’s not and what you can do to make this niche your own in today’s quacking trending market.  To help you do that – I sat down with one of the brightest stars I know in the short sales world, America’s Home Rescue’s Stacy Spickes.  She and her husband Michael have taken their “learned from being in the trenches” approach to short sale success to teach more than 43,000 agents across North America so far to adopt the best practices and policies in the country for developing a short sale business that can be a win-win-win for everyone.

Join me to learn some of the tremendous statistics and strategies she has to share…

Q:  Stacey – great to talk to you again!   You were heading into a Lifetime television series as we were wrapping our last interview…Can you tell us a little about that and what you guys have been up to since we last spoke?

A:  Goodness… this has been a wild and crazy year and so much has happened since we last spoke!

  • Lifetime… Lifetime Television has a viewership of 96 million households.  Over the last year we have worked with the production team of Lifetime Television to create a series of segments focused on educating homeowners about their options to avoiding foreclosure (Loan Modifications, Forbearance Agreements, Short Sales and Deeds-in-Lieu of Foreclosure).  Our first segment aired in February 2010 and several additional segments ran throughout the last year.  In these segments, homeowners are not only educated on their options, they are encouraged to reach out to a qualified professional who can help evaluate their situation and help them determine the course of action that best fits their needs.  If it is determined that the homeowner is upside-down and needs to sell the home via a Short Sale, they are encourage to contact a properly trained professional (one of our CDRS Members via our online CDRS Network Directory at: http://www.americashomerescue.com/find_a_specialist) to help facilitate the Short Sale process.  We are continuing to work with the production team of Lifetime Television to create additional segments to run throughout 2011 and beyond.
  • Launch of 2 New/Unique Short Sale Training Programs for Short Sale Settlement Officers (CDRCS) and Short Sale Buyers Agents (CSSBR)…

1)      CDRCS Escrow Certification Program (Certified Default Resolution Closing Specialist)… provides Escrow Officers and Closing Attorneys the training and resources unique to their specific role, responsibilities and concerns in a Short Sale.

2)      CSSBR (Certified Short Sale Buyer Representative)…provides Short Sale Buyer Representatives the training and resources unique to their specific role, responsibilities and concerns in a Short Sale.

Q:  How has the “Making Homes Affordable” program changed the way you do business and how short sale experts work with consumers?

A:  When the Making Home Affordable Program was initiated in March 2009, the focus was keeping homeowners in their home through loan modifications.  In November 2009, seeing that so many homeowners could not qualify for a loan modification,  the Treasury formulated the HAFA Program focused on foreclosure alternatives – specifically, Short Sales and Deeds-in-Lieu of Foreclosure.  Treasury implemented HAFA in April 2010 and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac followed shortly thereafter with similar guidelines.  It is important to understand that the HAFA Short Sale guidelines only apply to Conventional Short Sales, on First mortgages only, where the homeowner meets the following HAFA criteria: