Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reagor: Real-estate agents ask lenders key questions

Hundreds of metro Phoenix real-estate agents had the rare chance to ask executives from the nation's biggest lenders and some top distressed-property experts pressing questions about the region's housing market this week.

Fidelity National Title held a "Crystal Ball" housing conference in Tempe Thursday with this panel: JK Huey, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage REO and short-sale division; Bill Borda, senior vice president of Bank of America's short sale, deed in lieu and REO group; Stephanie Whittier, REO manager for Chase Banks Western region; Reginald Givens, foreclosure-assistance administrator with the Arizona Housing Department; Brent Taggart, senior vice president with REO assets-management company Green River Capital; Alex Charfen, president of Charfen Institute, which trains agents to handle distressed properties; Bruce Spowart, vice president of sales at data firm CoreLogic. (REO is an industry term for foreclosure properties that means "other real-estate owned.")

Hands started to shoot up as soon as the panel had been introduced.

Question: Despite a record number of short sales in Arizona, why are there still so many of the deals not getting lender-approval?

Huey: "Some buyers aren't getting financing. Lowball offers are wasting everyone's time." She also said some junior lien holders, companies with second mortgages on a home, won't accept offers so the short sale can't go through.

Charfen: "Agents are taking listings for homeowners who are only upside down. You can't make lenders solely responsible for unapprovable deals. Homeowners have to show hardship."

Huey: "Short sales were created to help homeowners with hardships. They aren't meant to help homeowners get out of bad investments."

Borda: "Do we really want to market that anyone can do a do-over on their home purchase?"

Q: "Why aren't real-estate agents compensated for helping homeowners with deeds in lieu? Those often take as much work gathering paperwork and negotiating as a short sale." (A deed in lieu involves a distressed homeowner signing over the house to the lender instead of going through costly foreclosure proceedings.)

Huey: "Deeds in lieu are quicker than foreclosures, but we have to be careful. It's a slippery slope paying an agent to get a homeowner to sign a deed in lieu, if the agent then tries to sell the home."

Green: "We are working on a program to compensate for deeds in lieu. We believe there's value in agents' work on those."

Q: Can homeowners be eligible for both HAFA (the U.S.-backed short-sale program) and the Arizona program funded by Hardest Hit money?

Givens: "Yes. Between the two programs, Arizona homeowners can receive up to $25,000 in aid."

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Nov. 4, 2011 05:22 PM

Reagor: Real-estate agents ask lenders key questions

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