New Short Sale Guidelines Encourage Sweeping Changes to Short Sale Process

It has been a very long year fighting everyday to save homeowners from foreclosure. It is a daily challenge to push short sales efficiently and effectively through the short sale process. I have been actively involved in national short sale advocacy groups and we have been demanding changes to a broken short sale process. Two years ago when we started our first short sales, it was a difficult path of paving a road never traveled. As short sales become more prominent we saw changes and guidelines help streamline and encourage lenders to participate in foreclosure prevention programs under the Making Home Affordable Program or Home Affordable Alternatives Program (HAFA). These programs encouraged mortgage modifications and offered some incentives for shorts sales and deed in lieu of foreclosures. However, the program struggled to offer real solutions to an epic problem plaguing our country’s real estate market.

Today’s announcement by the Treasury Department is the next critical and potentially monumental step to making a difference in offering homeowners a real foreclosure alternative. With over 88% of our distressed inventory in Okaloosa, Walton and Bay County being short sales…this is a very significant and much needed change…or as I would call it the necessary lifeline to get through this current real estate crisis. The plan is designed to accelerate the necessary agreements between lenders, real estate agents, buyers and sellers.

Here is a quick break down of the new guidelines…will it change short sales overnight? No. But we have yet to see the bulk of short sales and 2010 will be an epic year for short sales and foreclosures!

The program’s official name is the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA), and it’s part of an existing initiative, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). HAFA applies to loans not owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which cover over half of all U.S. mortgages; however, Fannie and Freddie will issue their own versions of HAFA in coming weeks.

While HAFA’s goal is simple – increase the number of short sales and “deeds in lieu of foreclosure” by simplifying the process – the rules are complex, and it comes with 43 pages of guidelines and forms. Among other things, HAFA:

Allows borrowers to receive pre-approved short sales terms before listing the property (including the minimum acceptable net proceeds).

• Prohibits servicers from requiring a reduction in the real estate commission agreed upon in the listing agreement (up to 6 percent).

• Requires borrowers to be fully released from future liability for the first mortgage debt (no cash contribution, promissory note, or deficiency judgment is allowed.)

• Provides financial incentives: $1,500 for borrower relocation assistance; $1,000 for servicers to cover administrative and processing costs; and up to $1,000 for investors.

The program does not take effect until April 5, 2010, but servicers may implement it before then if they meet certain requirements. The program sunsets on Dec. 31, 2012.

To qualify under the new guidelines:

  • The property must be the homeowner’s principal residence.
  • The homeowner is delinquent on the mortgage or default looks likely. Homeowner is insolvent.
  • The loan was made before Jan. 1 this year and is less than $729,750
  • The borrowers’ total monthly mortgage payment exceeds 31 percent of their before-tax income.


Read the complete 43 page SHORT SALE GUIDELINES

If you are a troubled homeowner, or have a family member or friend facing foreclosure, please give us a call for a confidential consultation about the possibility of a short sale.  Call Craig Baranowski at 850.259.1788 or email  us @ Team Baranowski has a 100% success rate for all of our short sales for 2009!

This site, Craig Baranowski or Keller Williams Realty is not providing legal or tax advice. The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. It is recommended that sellers considering a short sale should consult an independent legal and tax adviser for more information.


  1. says

    Craig, Have you seen much change with these new guidelines?  I have a few new short sales I am starting on so I will let you know my thoughts soon.  Bank of America still seems to be the biggest problem child although we have a few that are pretty close to done with them.  The only bad thing is it has been a 9 month process!

    • says


      We are seeing some changes every month. I think with anything the problem needs to get completely out of hand before it can get better. I truly believe Bank of America has hit that point and has made significant investments in processes and technology to overcome their issues. I would like to believe we will see much more efficient processes by mid-2010. Also, keep in mind that we also had to educate Realtors, sellers and buyers on how to handle short sales as well. Imagine how many incomplete short sale packages or bad sales contracts are clogging up the system.

  2. says

    Bank of America is the worst bank I have ever dealt. They are bunch of crooks who just know how to take taxpayers money and just fill their executives pockets. Its been 8 months and we still have no answer from our short sale with BOA. If we walk who loose. Feenie Mae or should I say Taxpayer which is we all.


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