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“There was one bank that held title, but another did a refinance on the property,” Stamker says. In the end, they couldn’t settle the dispute on who could close (the sale). So the buyer ended up losing the property.”

Barbara Weismann, an agent in Tenafly, N.J., says she has seen condo deals fall apart because there’s a lien on the condo for unpaid homeowner’s association fees, and neither the seller, the bank nor the buyer is willing to pay it off.

Short sales also can be challenging because the homes are sold “as-is.” Buyers sometimes try to negotiate to have the seller or lender pay for repairs, but in most cases, neither will pay.

Real estate agents and lawyers say some mortgage servicers can be very slow to respond to buyers’ offers. Agent George Violick in Oradell, N.J., says he just closed on a short sale that took 18 months — and his buyer was the sixth person to try to purchase the house.

“There was lots of duplicate paperwork and lots of waiting,” he says.

“We’d go months without hearing from the bank, and then it’d be, ‘We need this form signed by the end of the day.’ ”

But other real estate agents say the mortgage industry has taken steps to streamline the process. For example, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the large entities that guarantee mortgages, have reduced the paperwork requirements in some short sales and will offer up to $6,000 to pay off second liens to help the deal move forward, among other actions.

And a number of large banks now use an online site called, where documents can be uploaded and viewed, cutting the potential for lost paperwork. As a result, says Johnny Rojas, a broker in Garfield, N.J., “the process goes more quickly.”

©2014 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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