From the NY Times:
STANDING by while her mother was evicted from her home in Tinton Falls for the few thousand dollars she owed in mortgage payments in the 1990s had a big influence on Kim Hale and her career choices. A new nursing school graduate at the time, Ms. Hale said she had had no idea how to help her mother, who was “too embarrassed to reach out to anyone.”
“If I knew then what I know now, she would have fought, and she’d probably still be in that house,” said Ms. Hale, 45, who is now a real estate agent with Exit Realty in West Long Branch, specializing in short sales. She says she focuses on short sales — they are about 70 percent of her work — because she wants to offer distressed homeowners the best possible outcome.
Ms. Hale is one of many brokers who have positioned themselves as short-sale experts. Which makes sense, as nearly 4.3 million American homeowners are delinquent on their mortgage payments, 124,910 of them in New Jersey, according to data released last month from LPS Applied Analytics. An additional 121,258 New Jersey homes are in foreclosure, which makes New Jersey the state with the fourth-highest percentage of delinquent loans.
These days it is even starting to dawn on long-reluctant banks that there is value in short sales, which promise higher returns than foreclosures (not to mention the benefit of keeping a house from abandonment). In fact, in states like New Jersey and New York — where the foreclosure process has halted in the 11 months since a court order forced banks to restructure their mortgage procedures — the short sale has for the time being become practically the only alternative.
As a result, it is now banks themselves that, in growing numbers, are indirectly providing brokers with leads on potential short sales.
“The banks are definitely becoming friendlier to deal with, especially as they realize there’s so much shadow inventory out there that hasn’t even reached the market yet,” said Bill Flagg, a broker with ERA Queen City in Scotch Plains, referring to the very institutions that once made the process difficult. Today, half his office’s business is in short sales or foreclosures, he said.
J. K. Huey, who heads up Wells Fargo Bank’s short-sale and foreclosure division, affirmed the recent thaw between the real estate and banking communities on short sales, noting that “most agree that foreclosure is not the best alternative for anyone.”
Brokers are also becoming more personally proactive, advertising their short-sale expertise or, in the case of Susanne Rhame of the Woodward Realty Group in Middletown, blogging and tweeting about short selling. But when all else fails, eavesdropping can sometimes prove helpful in turning up clients. Ms. Hale described a recent shopping expedition on which she heard another customer talking about a neighbor who had been forced to leave her home.
“I’m not shy,” she said. Upon reaching the homeowner, “I say, ‘Look, could you use $3,000? That’s what they might pay you to not just walk away from your home.’ With a short sale, you can control the way you leave.”