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RISMEDIA, April 22, 2010—The short sale and foreclosure wave—a more accurate reference may be tsunami—has dramatically changed the real estate profession…and not all for the good. We have been dealing with this new real estate reality for more than a year now, yet lenders still seem to be befuddled on how to expedite or develop a process to handle these sales in a timely manner.

Additionally, communications are abysmal at best in keeping all parties informed as to where they stand in the process. I receive calls daily from Realtors and consumers frustrated with receiving no information regarding offers they have submitted on short sale properties. The situation worsens when they finally discover their offer was not accepted, only to find out that a lower-priced offer was accepted after their offer was submitted.

The situation escalates when the listing office provides no confirmation that the offer was ever submitted and the sales record shows that the selling agent was with the listing office. Demands being placed by asset management companies on Realtors, if they want to continue to receive listings, also appear to be going beyond the scope of marketing the property.

Realtors have commented to me on numerous occasions that after securing a vacant home and incurring costs for doing so, they are not being compensated by the asset management firm, lender or contracting party. When they demand payment, the lender or asset management firm drops them from the list to receive future listings while still not paying for the services performed. There are several recommendations that Realtors should implement to improve this situation. Notice that I did not say “resolve” the situation as that will not happen without a cooperative effort from all parties involved.

1. Access to up-to-date information needs to be improved. There is no good reason a consumer or Realtor should not be informed regarding the status of a submitted offer. There is a tremendous appearance of impropriety when no communications are received, only to see an accepted sale at a lower price by an agent associated with the listing company. Although the lender may not indicate that the offer was rejected, the listing office must implement a process to assure all parties submitting offers that their offer was in fact presented.

2. Communications with consumers must get better. Based on telephone calls to the Association office, consumers are not being adequately advised on how long a short sale process may take; that even though their offer may be higher, it might not be accepted; or that information during the process may be very minimal. There is a growing tendency to fix blame instead of fixing the problem.

3. Realtors need to thoroughly review any agreement with lenders or asset managers prior to agreeing to market their properties. Numerous Realtors have commented that they have incurred extensive costs in securing properties only to have their invoices remain unpaid. When they press for payment, they are dropped and the listings are given to another firm, with the Realtor left holding the bag for the costs.

There are also a multitude of courses or programs being offered that will “make you a short sale expert.” Be wary of these offerings until you have checked out their validity and who is actually offering the program.

This may be the new reality for the real estate profession for the foreseeable future. We must work together to provide the best services possible to our clients and customers.

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS®. To contact him, e-mail walt@mcaronline.com.

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