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Got a short sale problem? Escalate it

By Polyana da Costa · Bankrate.com
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

Homeowners who are trying to sell their homes through short sale and have loans owned by Fannie Mae can now cut to the chase if they get the runaround from their servicers.

The mortgage giant has expanded its HomePath for short sales program to allow real estate agents to communicate directly with a Fannie Mae agent through its website at HomePathForShortSales.com. The escalation process should help speed up the short-sale process for buyers and sellers when they run into problems such as disputes over the value of the home or when their servicers refuse to cooperate.

This is the latest in a series of changes that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made to make short sales easier for underwater homeowners who need to sell their homes for less than what they owe.

The guidelines that were implemented in November included timelines for servicers to respond to short-sale requests and expedited short sales for certain types of borrowers.

Short-sale specialist Patty Da Silva says the efforts have helped, but her short-sale deals still take an average of six months to close. That's an improvement from the days when buyers and sellers waited more than a year to be told their short-sale contract was rejected. But it remains a lengthy process.

"Anything is progress," says Da Silva, owner of Green Realty Properties in Davie, Fla. "I welcome all the changes because I really do believe they help."

Homes that were not in foreclosure and sold as short sales accounted for about 22 percent of all residential sales in the United States in 2012, according RealtyTrac. In Michigan, Florida and Nevada, nonforeclosure short sales accounted for 33 percent of all sales.

Despite the improvements, many servicing companies still have not managed to train their staff well on the short-sale process, she says.

"It's very easy for them to say they don't have all the documents, even though they do," she says. "That still happens. I really believe there's just not enough training."

Have you tried selling or buying a home through a short sale? How was your experience?

Follow Twitter @Polyanad.

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