Buying a Short Sale Property in West Michigan

House and Keys in Female HandsPurchasing a new home is one of the most exciting experiences an individual or family can have.  If you’ve been out of the real estate market for some time, you may be unaware of some dramatic changes in the real estate market landscape. In today’s market, there are some unique situations which home buyers should be aware of as they prepare to consider the purchase of a new home.


Almost five years ago, one of my blogs featured the quote below:

However, home buyers looking for a home to purchase will also quickly become aware of a notation which currently accompanies almost 65% of the homes listed for sale in November 2008 through the Grand Rapids Multiple Listing Service.  This notation which is accessible to the real estate agent on the listing card, will contain an advisory warning indicating that interested parties should be aware of the fact that the sale of the listed home will necessiate a ‘Short Sale’.


If you’re a brand new home buyer or recently re-entering the market, this notation may prove perplexing and you may wonder…What is a Short Sale?Well, in short (pun intended)…A Short Sale notation on a listing card is an indication that the home is priced below the mortgage balance owed on the home. (after costs associated with the home sale are paid) What may not be readily apparent to you is the fact that the term ‘SHORT Sale’ does NOT necessarily provide an accurate reflection of the duration of this particular type of transaction.


Well, it depends.

On the most basic level, this means that in order to become the new owner of this home, you will have to complete a successful negotiation with the owner (s) of the mortgage note to purchase the home to allow the ownership to be transferred to you for less than the current owner owes.  This adds several  additional steps and required signatures to the offer acceptance process which will now include:  the home owner who signed the listing agreement, the lender (s) and in some cases third party investors.


But for starters, it means that you should be prepared to be very patient and persistent if you truly want this home.  Short Sales are arguably among the most difficult negotiations to complete.  It is not unusual for real estate agents to negotiate for months to bring these transactions to closure.  As housing inventory levels have declined significantly within the past couple of years, some banks have become even more recalcitrant about negotiating a Short Sale in good faith.  Sometimes doing so at the cost of eventually losing the home to a Foreclosure and racking up significant costs in repairing the property, not to mention the fact that payments on the home may not have been made for a long time.

Being prepared for the long haul will save you the angst of increased blood pressure, stress and unnecessary temper tantrums. It will also be deeply appreciated by your hard working real estate agent who will probably accrue more stress than a commission will adequately compensate for.


Buying a home which requires the negotiation of a Short Sale will also add some additional steps to the home purchasing process.  Be prepared to wait while the bank (s) review the home owners paperwork to determine if they qualify for a Short Sale.  You can also anticipate that a Broker Price Opinion aka Appraisal may be ordered to determine if the bank wants to entertain your offer as one reflective of the current market conditions.  The primary Lender is now required to respond to your initial inquiry within 30 days which should technically shorten the process, but sometimes does not.

Offer submissions for Short Sales may languish on an Asset Managers desk while they sift through hundreds of files which have landed there before yours or wait to see if a better competing offer comes through.  Be persistent.  If you’ve done your homework and received some professional consultation from your real estate expert, you should be aware of the Value of your purchase.  A Short Sale negotiation done correctly can earn you your dream home with a significant amount of equity attached…no small feat in today’s market.


Now, this may seem absurd but you must understand one very important thing; just because the owner of the mortgage may choose to create a long drawn out process does NOT mean that you as a potential buyer will be afforded the same luxury.  In fact, it is not unusual to wait for months for a Short Sale Negotiation to be resolved only to be informed that you have three weeks to close the transaction.

So be prepared!  Make sure that you have a valid pre-approval in place even if this means updating the document while you await a resolution to your negotiation.  During this period of waiting, refrain from the temptation to buy any major purchases for your intended home (or any large purchases of any sort) so the terms of your pre-approval remain valid.  While waiting, take the opportunity to line up services that you may need to contract for the home purchase such as Inspectors, Handymen etc.


One of the best investments you will make is to hire a Professional REALTOR who has experience with Short Sales.  The National Association of REALTORS does offer a certification for REALTORS (SFR).  Audu Real Estate has two individuals with this Designation.  In addition, we have successfully negotiated Short Sales since 2005.  We work with as a team which includes a title company that not only assists with the paperwork but has legal counsel available to review situations as warranted.

Lastly be flexible.  At times, you will be tempted to throw in the towel.  Dates may be changed, demands made which seem unreasonable.  You may have ordered your moving truck only to be told that the closing cannot happen as planned.  Being flexible will help preserve your dignity, your mind and the pleasure of enjoying a victory of a hard won battle.


Although Short Sales and Forclosures can provide significant cost savings, there are times when you cannot afford the investment of time and/or money which may be required to purchase a property which is being sold in this way.  For instance, if you have just sold another property and need to move into another home within less than 30 days, it is probably not prudent to try to buy a home through a Short Sale unless you have alternate arrangements for lodging if the transaction cannot be completed within your time constraints. There are many homes being retailed today which will not require a Short Sale transaction.  If you would like to purchase a home, let us help you determine which route may be best for you.  We can also provide you with a FREE list of available homes in the areas and price range you desire.


Smart Homes for Thoughtful People ~ Featuring Heartland Builders

Heartland Builders Grand Rapids MIFor the past few days, we’ve been hearing birds singing in the morning.  They can’t be wrong about Spring can they?  It must be around the corner even though these mountains of snow seem to be taking forever to melt!  Another ritual of Spring for the real estate community is the prospect of building a new home.  Over the past year as inventory levels for existing housing has remained consistently low, more people are looking into the possibility of designing and building their own home.

Today, Cheryl Johnston- Audu Real Estate New Home Specialist and I had the pleasure of meeting with Rich Kogelschatz, the Owner and Principle Builder of Heartland Builders LLC.  Heartland Builders was established in the mid 1980’s and has specialized in some unique ways.  One of which is Universal Design,  which acknowledges that for many people some form of physical limitation will touch our lives through someone we know or in a personal way.  As we mature, the prospect of accessibility and barrier free living are conversations which may become necessary for a variety of reasons.  Heartland Builders believes that our homes should age as gracefully as we do and implements this thought into the design and building process.

According to Rich, ‘thoughtful people’ want to build with confidence.  We loved the unique APP designed to manage the building and communication process from start to finish.  Unexpected surprises are minimized when you can ‘tap’ into your building process for a seamless update on what is going on.  Heartland Builders also has a very detailed process map which highlights the entire construction process including client/contractor meetings and inspections from start to Closing.

One of the most daunting aspects of building a brand new home from scratch is figuring out what product selections look best and fit within your budget.  Heartland Builders provides interior design services and computerized modeling to help you select your product and even see how changes to the architectural design will look before you make a final decision.

We both learned a lot from talking to Rich and were impressed with the attention to detail and the processes Heartland Builders has put into place to create a great client experience!

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Focus – Lessons on Living Life Well.

Spring Showers...

Spring Showers…

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Focus.  And the way our focus impacts our lives.  Focus is a magnifier.  It enlarges whatever it is directed towards.  Focus also is an attractor.  It brings to us whatever we pay attention to.

Focus is not just a mental activity.  It incorporates just about every dimension of our being.  And, it’s not optional.  We are all focusing on something.  It’s just a matter of WHERE we are choosing to place our focus at any given time and to what extent.  Even folks who have a hard time at focusing are actually doing so.  The difference is that they are simply jumping more rapidly from one thing; in other words a type of mis-directed focus.

Concentrated focus is incredibly powerful.  When we concentrate our attention on anything, we have the capacity to tap into an enormous reservoir of energy and opportunity. Over the years, I’ve talked with many real estate agents.  I’ve also had the opportunity to coach and train agents.  One of the most interesting elements of training has been exploring where agents place their focus during the work day and how this correlates to the results they’re achieving.

I was somewhat shocked to find that the average agent was spending less than 3 hours in any given day on real estate related activities which actually produced an income.  Yes, they may have been at a desk and even in front of a computer.  But what were they focused on?  More often than not, the focus was NOT on the things that generate income for agents such as: Prospecting, Lead Generation, Follow-up, Listing Appointments and Buyer Appointments.  It does not require genius to understand that three hours or less on any work related activity is not likely to bring in an living wage. Unfortunately, the advent of many online activities has made the issue of a lack of focus even more acute.

Focusing requires the discipline to take a step back and in some cases to step away from other activities.  It is about prioritizing and re-evaluating the direction in which you need to go.  Focus allows you to concentrate on things which need to be changed and to address issues which require urgent attention.

Lastly, focus requires balance.  Anything taken to an extreme is not advantageous.  In the past, I’ve focused so much concentration on my business that sometimes placed other important areas of my life on a back burner.

Balanced focus means that taking care of business does not come at the expense of family life, spiritual life, emotional health, financial well-being or spiritual vitality.  For it is in balance that focus brings it’s greatest gift.  Living a focused life means that we are fully present in whatever we do and when that’s over, we release and move on without regrets.  These are some of my lessons.  What does focus mean to you?

(Republished from 2012 – Copyright Audu Real Estate)