Short Sale Blog

Here is the latest short sale news at Seattle Short Sales. We assist hundreds of Seattle area homeowners with short selling their home and avoiding foreclosure.

Negotiating it Right: Three Years Later, One Third of HAMP Loan-Mods are Redefaulting

- Saturday, March 15, 2014

Supposedly permanent loan modifications are defaulting at what the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) calls an “alarming rate". The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program claimed that it would help between 3 and 4 million homeowners to avoid foreclosure via loan modifications. However, according to the SIGTARP quarterly report released last week, after four years of HAMP, only 862,279 homeowners are currently in an active permanent mortgage modification.

The low number of total modifications is not the only bad news about HAMP. As of the end of last month, over 312,000 homeowners have redefaulted on their HAMP modification. As SIGTARP notes, “For these homeowners, the HAMP permanent mortgage modification they received was not sustainable.”

The earliest HAMP permanent modifications, those negotiated in the third and fourth quarters of 2009, are defaulting at rates of 46% and 39% respectively. And HAMP modifications negotiated in 2010 are doing little better, redefaulting at rates of between 29% and 38%.

Loan modifications can work for some homeowners who are threatened with foreclosure, provided that they are negotiated properly to ensure that the homeowners will be able continue to afford the new payments. But loan modifications that eventually redefault often cost people their homes: the lost time spent on a modification doomed to fail means that there is no time left to investigate other options, and foreclosure is the result.

Seattle Short Sales has a team of experienced and successful real estate specialists dedicated to working with distressed homeowners. We close, on average, 12% of all short sales per month in King County. In the last 24 months, we have negotiated over 756 short sale approvals, and discounted over $81 million of mortgage debt for distressed homeowners.

In addition to our short sales negotiators, our team includes dedicated professionals advising and advocating for homeowners in the fields of: loan modifications, bankruptcy, debt settlement and collection defense. As part of our service, we offer unlimited attorney and CPA consultations.

If you are a homeowner who is struggling to make ends meet, and would like to learn more about the options available to you, please go to:

You can also contact Lambros Politis on Google+ or to find more up to date information on this subject, go to theArk Law Group Blog. 

Facts and Figures: A Detailed Look at What is Really Wrong With Loan Modifications

- Monday, March 14, 2011

We’ve been hearing lots of general statistics about the failure of loan modifications programs, both HAMP and loan modifications negotiated outside of HAMP. For example, last month’s news that nearly half of loan modifications that made it to “permanent” status end up falling behind within 12 months.

But a new study out this past week presents the most detailed analysis yet. Using the Treasury Department’s own figures, information obtained from Freedom of Information Requests, and industry and state data, authors Olga Pierce and Paul Kiel of have taken a detailed look at how loan modification programs are working. And their conclusion is that HAMP, as well as other loan-modification programs outside of HAMP, are an overall failure.

Below, you will find highlights of some of the conclusions the authors came to - but please refer to their original article By the Numbers: A Revealing Look at the Mortgage Mod Meltdown for more details on how they arrived at their conclusions, and especially for their great graphics that illustrate the scale of the loan modification problems.

Only a fraction of struggling homeowners are getting help.
A very small percentage of underwater homeowners are receiving loan modifications, and the average rate at which loan modifications are being negotiated is not significantly different from what the rate was before HAMP was initiated.

Mortgage servicers are reaching only a small fraction of struggling homeowners.
Only about one third of homeowners who are two or more months behind on their mortgage payments are actually in contact with their servicers about strategies to avoid foreclosure.

The largest servicers have left most struggling homeowners hanging without either modifying or foreclosing.
A significant percentage of subprime loans that are more than three months delinquent have neither been modified nor foreclosed on, leaving the homeowners in limbo. Bank of America had the poorest record here, with 41% of delinquent loans not yet in foreclosure, in spite of the average delinquency being 13 months.

HAMP hasn’t led to an increase in modifications.
There are currently about 125,000 loan modifications per month (including loan mods both within and outside of HAMP), which is the same rate as just before HAMP launched. The rate actually decreased as HAMP delayed the process, then peaked, and has now fallen back to the pre-HAMP level.

Only about 20% of homeowners who have applied for a HAMP modification have received a permanent modification.
Nearly half were denied before even getting a trial modification.

Mortgage servicers cited missing documents in a quarter of loan modifiction rejections.
In many cases, the servicer themselves lost the documents, or had never asked for the documents they cited as “missing.”

Most TARP funds set aside to help homeowners are still unused.
The Treasury Department set aside $37 billion to help struggling homeowners through HAMP and the Hardest Hit Fund - but only $1 billion of this has been used so far.

If you are a homeowner, and would like to learn more about short selling your home, please go to:

If you are a real estate agent, and would like to learn about our no-fee short sale service, please go to:

Short Sales Will Continue to Grow as REO Shadow Inventory Brings Further Home Price Drops

- Monday, September 20, 2010

Approximately 2.5 million American homes are currently under foreclosure, and another 2.5 million homeowners are more than 90 days delinquent on their mortgages and likely to face foreclosure, according to a report released last week by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

According to the report, about 562,000 homes are currently Real-Estate Owned (REO). They form a “shadow inventory” of homes for sale - an inventory that is sure to rise as the current glut of real estate, a total of 5 million homes that are either under foreclosure or likely to face foreclosure, hits the market.

The Burns report predicts that this REO inventory will affect home prices in two main ways:
1. It creates a more-than-one-year supply of homes on the market. Simple laws of supply and demand mean that prices will likely drop.
2. Banks are more likely to drop prices on bank-owned homes in order to ensure a quick sale, which will negatively affect home prices throughout the region.

Many analysts attribute the increase in foreclosures to the failure of the loan-modification program. While loan modifications have seen better performances through the first quarter of 2010, with less than 10% of loans processed through the program becoming more than 60-day delinquent through that period (data from FHFA 2Q2010 report), for many homeowners loan modifications have only delayed their path to foreclosure, leading to the recent rise in foreclosure starts.

Aside from the specter of a growing REO inventory of homes for sale, factors external to the real estate market itself may also bring home prices down, such as: greater levels of unemployment, and rising interest rates. Just how much home prices could fall depends upon local market conditions; the Seattle market, for example, is one that is currently considered overvalued and so has the potential to drop more.

More and more homeowners are working to avoid foreclosure by taking preventative action. Where market conditions have forced homeowners into a negative equity situation, rather than waiting for foreclosure, an increasing number of homeowners are choosing to short sale their home.

A short sale is a loss mitigation measure; the homeowner negotiates a discount on the amount owing to the bank, and pays off that amount to relieve himself or herself of the loan. In markets that have the potential for further declines, it is a strategy for the homeowner to escape the risk of even further losses. Short sales are one of the fastest-growing categories of foreclosure-prevention actions, having grown from 11,700 in the second quarter of 2009 to 29,400 in the same quarter this year. The Burns report predicts that short sales will continue to grow, as homeowners strategize in order to protect themselves from further losses due to continued home price declines.

If you are a homeowner, and would like to learn more about short selling your home, please go to:

If you are a real estate agent, and would like to learn about our no-fee short sale service, please go to:

Seattle Homes Currently “Significantly Overvalued” - Some Analysts Predict Further Price Drop of up to 20%

- Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just how far home prices could drop is anyone’s guess. But, according to a report by Moody’s Analytics, Seattle is one market that still remains overvalued.

Moody’s is a credit-rating agency that provides financial analysis and evaluates the credit-worthiness of borrowers. In recent weeks, they have downgraded the ratings of numerous mortgage-backed securities (MBS) because of the continually worsening performance of the underlying mortgage pools.

Giving reasons for the down-grading, Moody’s notes “uncertainty in the current macroeconomic environment, in which unemployment remains at high levels, and weakness [that] persists in the housing market.” Moody’s assumes that housing prices will deflate by a “baseline” of about 5%, with stabilization in 2011. However, they caution that this economic uncertainty increases the potential for a double-dip recession - which could result in a further decline in home prices by up to 20%.

CEO of Kondaur Capital Corp. (a distressed loan purchaser), Jon Daurio, told The Housing Wire that he agreed with Moody’s take, citing the possibility of worsening unemployment figures and the failure of the HAMP program as contributing factors. However, Daurio noted that some communities might be immune to the drop, or even experience price appreciation. While many markets have already seen large price drops, Seattle is one city that Moody’s (as cited in the WSJ) considers to remain “significantly overvalued.”

With foreclosures increasing, and foreclosure starts back on the increase after nearly a year of declines, the banks themselves hold an inordinate amount of power in influencing home prices.

Foreclosure statistics, by quarter

(Chart from FHFA second quarter report, 2010)

While homeowners may be reluctant to drop their prices for a quick sale, banks have a greater incentive to rid themselves of property quickly, and so are more likely to slash prices on foreclosed homes. As more homes fall under foreclosure, rising supply coupled with decreasing demand could see home prices plummet. In places where the market has already dropped substantially, prices have less distance to fall. But in markets that are considered to be overvalued, such as Seattle, the effect could be felt more strongly.

Seattle Short Sales, Inc. encourages homeowners to assess their situation with an attorney, a CPA, or a financial planner, to determine whether it makes sense to continue making payments on a mortgage that is significantly underwater.

If you are a homeowner, and would like to learn more about short selling your home, please go to:

If you are a real estate agent, and would like to learn about our no-fee short sale service, please go to:

FHFA Second Quarter Financial Report Shows Short Sales Continue to Rise

- Saturday, September 11, 2010

Data released in the new Federal Housing Finance Agency’s second quarter report for 2010 show that, as home foreclosure starts are back on the rise, more homeowners are choosing to avoid foreclosure by undertaking a short sale of their homes. Short sales of homes increased by 26% over the previous quarter.

Number of short sales and deeds-in-lieu, by quarter

The second quarter of 2010 saw an increase of 12% in foreclosure starts from the previous quarter, to a total of nearly 275,100, and an increase of 15% in completed foreclosure sales and third party sales.

Homeowners who are struggling to meet mortgage payments and who want to avoid foreclosure may pursue one of two strategies:

Home retention actions involve negotiating with the lender to change the terms of the loan, e.g.:

- making the loan repayments more affordable for the borrower by changing interest rate or other loan terms (loan modification)
- coming up with alternative loan repayment plans, or
- temporarily suspending monthly payments for a defined period of time (forbearance plan).

Home forfeiture actions are when the homeowner voluntarily relinquishes the property, either through:

- a short sale (where the home is sold, with the lender’s permission, for a value less than what is owing on the loan, and the lender accepts a discounted repayment to relieve the homeowner of the secured loan), or
- a deed-in-lieu (where the lender transfers ownership of the property to the lender) in order to be relieved of the loan obligations.

Actions to prevent foreclosure, by quarter

Home retention actions - and in particular, loan modifications - have been the choice of many homeowners. However, the loan modification program has been slowing down. The FHFA report shows that there were less than half as many borrowers in a HAMP trial period at the end of this past quarter than there were at the beginning of the quarter. And figures for July, 2010, show that there were more cancellations than starts in the HAMP program.

The total number of participants in either the trial or permanent stage of the HAMP program has decreased by 27% over this quarter: from 584,000 to 427,000. This decline in participation is attributed by the FHFA report to new requirements to verify documentation at the beginning of the loan-modification process, and cancellations due to inadequate documentation or missed payments.

HAMP loan modification stats, by month

As less homeowners opt for loan modification plans or cancel from HAMP trials, an increasing number of them choose to go ahead with a short sale. For them, the disadvantage of selling their property at a loss is outweighed by the advantages of:

- relieving them of a mortgage they can no longer afford
- avoiding the uncertainty of committing to repay a loan, even if its terms have been modified, in the current unstable and unpredictable economic climate
- receiving significant discounts on monies owed to their lenders (typically in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars)
- preventing foreclosure, and the negative long-term effects that a foreclosure would have on a consumer’s credit rating.

The FHFA report indicates that short sales increased by 26% from the current quarter (29,375) over the previous quarter (23,379). This represents an increase in short sales of 250% compared to the same period one year ago, indicating that short sales have becoming an increasing action-of-choice for homeowners seeking to address negative equity and avoid foreclosure.

Obama’s Loan Modification Program Slowing Down

- Tuesday, August 24, 2010
July 2010 saw more cancellations of government-sponsored loan modifications than new loan modifications.

HAMP, the Housing Affordable Modifications Program, was initiated by President Obama in April 2009 to help homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage payments. The program can provide assistance for mortgage holders who want to refinance their mortgage or negotiate a loan modification with their lenders. It also includes opportunities for those who wish to mitigate their losses through short sales.

HAMP helps homeowners looking to modify their loan by giving lenders incentives to negotiate more favorable terms: for example by increasing the time period of the loan and by lowering interest rates. Homeowners start with at least three payments on “trial” before the loan modification becomes permanent.

However, nearly half of the 1.3 million loan modifications that have been negotiated under the HAMP program have been cancelled. This July, the number of new government-sponsored loan modifications grew by its slowest rate since the program started, and there were five times more cancellations than new modifications.

The Treasury indicated last week that there will be more cancellations than new trials for the coming months. This is to clear a backlog of “aged trials” from the program’s early days, when banks were encouraged to approve new trial loan modifications without supporting documents to ensure borrowers’ eligibility.

A total of 422,000 borrowers have received permanent loan modifications through HAMP. Other alternatives HAMP offers to homeowners include negotiating a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Seattle Short Sales, Inc. is a specialist in the marketing and short selling of properties in the Seattle area. Please contact us with any of your questions about short sales.

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