Short Sale Snoop–Who's On First?

I can laugh about this one since all ended well.  A week ago, however, neither I nor my clients were laughing.

I represented a buyer on a short sale property.  My buyers had conducted all their investigations and funded their loan.  They were waiting patiently to record with title on the date prescribed by the bank.  We had fully performed our end of the short sale contract with Bank of America as the short sale bank approving the transaction.  B of A, the owner of the 1st AND 2nd trust deeds, had been pushing us hard to close on time.

We expected B of A to approve the final HUD1 (this is the detailed form escrow prepares documenting who pays what, and where the money goes).  Since nothing had changed on our end, the approval seemed imminent.  After repeated inquiries with the listing agent and short sale negotiator regarding a status update, we learned that B of A could not approve the sale because they had SOLD the 2nd trust deed.

“What?” you ask.  Yes, that’s right.  B of A owns both loans, works months with the seller and buyer, APPROVES the short sale and gives us a term letter stating that if we do the following, the home belongs to my buyers.  It appears that the left hand and the right hand don’t know what the other is doing.  Somehow the 2nd trust deed wound up in a pool of loans that was sold off–likely for pennies on the dollar–to another loan company.  With the sale of the 2nd, no one involved in the transaction thus far had authority to issue a demand statement.  Title would NOT record.

My clients had two options at this point:  1) Walk away from the deal and get their deposit back, but lose inspection monies already spent and a lot of time invested, or 2) Work with the new owner of the 2nd, the Seller, and B of A to get the mess straightened out.  Option 2 might require that loan funds be returned and the loan approval & docs process be repeated all over, potentially costing them greatly if they couldn’t secure as good an interest rate.

We went with Option 2 and were ultimately successful in receiving a speedy approval from the new owner of the 2nd, who agreed to the offer on the table.  I made a call to the new lender to request they hold funds out as long as possible to avoid starting the loan process all over again, and they agreed.  We closed a few days late, but wound up with a good result and a successful short sale.  It took a little luck and a lot of perseverance on the part of all parties involved.

In this case, the various departments in the bank either didn’t communicate, had a system failure, or both.  This is one example that in a short sale, no one party has all the control–even the all powerful bank!