Chris Griffith: Why e-mail is crucial in short sales

CHRIS GRIFFITH

While e-mail isn’t new or revolutionary in real estate, it has become instrumental to the success of most contract negotiations and closings, especially when a property is a short sale or a foreclosure.

This isn’t a general whine about real estate agents that don’t or won’t properly use e-mail. E-mail has become the single most important means of communication with bank-involved real estate transactions. It’s crucial. That’s important to know because last month about 43 percent of the closed real estate transactions in Sunshine MLS last month were either a short sale or foreclosure.

At this stage of the game, e-mail is as fundamental as answering the phone or returning a voicemail. It’s so basic that most consumers probably don’t realize that it will literally determine the speed, ease, success or failure of their transaction.

The real estate agent you choose to list your home could become your worst enemy. You should know that the length of time you are in financial, legal and emotional turmoil is going to probably be doubled, even tripled because of the lack of basic communication through the basic clerical office skill of reading and responding to e-mail.

The two most trying transactions I was involved in last year involved agents that didn’t regularly read or respond to e-mail. Not just my correspondence but those from the lender, their seller, the title company or anyone else involved with struggling to get the property closed. For those not in the know, a missed correspondence from a lender is grounds to bounce a transaction out of the lender’s system. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars. Start over.

As a seller of short sale real estate you have probably heard the horror stories of how painfully long it takes to get a property approved. The fact of the matter is that while short sales are more work they really are being processed faster.

Those two properties I mentioned were on the market 15 months and 20 months, respectively, from date of list through closing. That is a ridiculously long time.

The sellers of those properties probably didn’t even know it shouldn’t have taken that long. The sellers of those properties probably had larger financial issues than just being upside down in their mortgages, too.

They then had the pleasure of suffering for months at the hand of an inept agent that let something as simple as not reading or responding to e-mail effect their transactions. Oh, and their wallets because they both kept current on homeowner association dues to avoid another lien and additional penalties and fees.

Folks, if you are caught in the predicament of being upside down in a mortgage and needing to sell short, part of your listing agent interview should include asking for seller references from past transactions. Any agent with experience and a track record of success can prove their success and offer endorsements. They can even print out the listing history of their last couple of short sale transactions in case you have a curiosity about how long it is from start to finish.

Sellers are usually exhausted when they decide to sell but they need to interview at least three agents for the job. I find it impossible to believe that either of the list agents I dealt with were the best possible choice of out three interviewed.

Come to think of it, it might be smart to begin with an e-mail invitation to a listing interview. That would certainly separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.

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