Chris Griffith: The short sale action item list


There have been several calls and e-mails from homeowners who are either struggling through the short sale process or wondering what it really takes to negotiate a short sale.

From the outside looking in, they are somewhat like hostages to transactions going nowhere so I thought I’d just shove some info out there so folks will know what sort of things they should be doing and at the very least be able to ask some questions if they are struggling through a short sale.

First and foremost, the situation of selling real estate short is a legal and financial matter, not a real estate matter. If you haven’t spoken with a real estate attorney, please, please, please make that the first step in your plan.

For those who do not know, a short sale is the process of a homeowner approaching their lender to ask for debt forgiveness. The homeowner is, in effect, selling their real estate at a price short of what they owe on their mortgage.

Selling the home and getting the contract is the easy part. The devil truly is in the details. Those devilish details are where some homeowners are looking for help.

The fabulous tales of lengthy negotiations followed by months of quiet should rightfully be questioned by the seller because sometimes silence actually does mean that nothing is being done. If you feel you’re spinning your wheels trying to sell short, here’s a suggested list of what you probably need to do.

If you haven’t been asked or provided the items you really do need to ask questions. You also should have been given a list similar to this when you listed your real estate short.

This isn’t the “craved in stone” package to process a short sale. Consider it a guideline and pretty much the basic starting point for most lenders. You’d likely need no less than these items to effectively submit a package to the short sale lender.

1. Dated, signed listing agreement with commissions listed.

2. Full MLS report from your real estate agent.

3. A seller signed authorization form for the agent and/or attorney to negotiate with the lender on seller’s behalf.

4. Signed, handwritten hardship letter explaining the circumstances.

5. A complete seller financial statement.

6. Two (months) recent bank statements.

7. Two months of pay stubs or written explanation of unemployment. Proof of Social Security or pension if receiving.

8. Dated, signed purchase agreement — the sale contract.

9. Buyer’s fresh proof of funds or preapproval.

10. Three recent, like-kind, comparable sales.

11. Last two years of seller’s tax returns.

12. List of repairs for the residence, if needed.

13. Preliminary HUD1 statement provided by attorney or title.

On a case by case basis there are going to be other items the lender may ask for. They will probably ask for the same stuff more than once, likely twice, possibly ad nauseum. After a few weeks, they may request updated paperwork, statements, proof of funds, etc., because they just have to make sure the sellers didn’t hit the megaball between then and now.

Keep in mind, if the lender posts the requested items in their online system, e-mail or call your agent to ask for these items and your agent doesn’t read their e-mail or return calls this process will go on indefinitely. That probably should have been put that on the list with stars and asterisks sprinkled around it.

There is an example in .pdf of the list, the authorization form, financial report hosted online at If you need it e-mailed, faxed or snail mailed, just ask and I’ll send you off a copy.

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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

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