Short Sale Strife

Yesterday my debit/credit card was stolen. I left it in an ATM and when I realized this and doubled back, it was gone. I called the bank immediately and they canceled it, but not before several fradulent purchases had been made.

Also yesterday I had sort of a testy conversation with our real estate agent, who in general we like. Unfortunately the High Street offer has fallen through, due to complicated and annoying circumstances. Basically there are two different banks holding mortgages on the property, and they cannot agree on terms between themselves. The second bank wants five thousand dollars more than the first bank is willing to give them. If it was only a matter of increasing our offer by five thousand dollars, we would simply do so. Unfortunately any amount we offer goes through the first bank, and no matter what our price is, they are still only willing to pass a set amount to the second bank.

What the second bank wants is an extra payoff, one that won’t show up on escrow or on the sales records. This is illegal and basically constitutes tax fraud—because the payment doesn’t show up the sales record, the house isn’t taxed at its full value—but according to the listing agent, the other people who have made an offer on the property are willing to do this. So, they are probably going to get the house, even though our offer was for a higher amount.

This is not why my conversation with the realtor was testy. She worked hard on the deal, calling both banks directly to negotiate, and we’re grateful for her efforts even though they proved fruitless. She’s testy because we now want to look at a house in the same area that’s being offered at half the price of the High Street property. It needs some obvious repairs (it has scuzzy carpet and some damage to the interior walls) but if there’s nothing structurally wrong with the place (which is something we’d only find out after doing our own inspections) it would be an amazing deal. It’s also a bank-owned property rather than a short sale, so presumably it’d be a lot easier to buy. Of course this would cut our agent’s expected commission in half, which is why I think she’s unwilling even to look at it. Meanwhile I’m antsy because properties at similar price points have shown up on the MLS and been snapped up before we had a chance to see them.

I’m not the first to observe this, but the real estate agent system is truly effed up. When the person who is supposed to be representing your interests has every personal incentive to inflate your offers and steer you towards overpriced properties, that’s effed up. I can’t help but think that this system has contributed to the housing bubble: how many people were counseled by their agents to buy properties that they couldn’t comfortably afford? Our agent has a maxim she likes to trot out about “buying the most house you can” and every time she says it I just nod and smile, because it’s not in my interest to pick a fight with her.

But yes, we’re going to see the $75,000 place on Friday (along with a few others), even though our agent got kind of passive-aggressive about it on the phone (lots of little comments about how we “really need to focus” and she’s been “disappointed that our time hasn’t been put to better use”). Thanks, hon! We are focused. We’re focused on homes that will save us money, not the ones that will pad your commission.

Whether it had anything to do with arguing with our realtor and stressing about our stolen ATM card or not, last night I was struck by a splitting headache. In fact, I don’t really know, but I’m going to call it a migraine because it was centered sharply behind my left eyebrow and accompanied by a strong desire to lie down in the dark. Sam was really great about keeping the boy distracted while I did just that. All night.

Anyway, I hope today is better than yesterday.

4 Responses to “Short Sale Strife”

  • Dawn Says:


    That’s just crap.

  • shannon Says:

    I know, right? Our realtor says she’s going to “report” the illegal sale — to who or what authority, I don’t know.

  • anti-sara Says:

    Dear Madam Realtor,

    I realize that you like everyone else is just trying to make ends meet, however pushing your client to spend money they don’t necessarily want to spend is a good way to loose said client.

    Overly Opinionated Sister-in-Law

  • Nina Says:

    Gahh! What a craptastic day. I hope your bank is helpful about the bad charges.

    and yes, the real estate thing is effed up. you get screwed coming and going, too — there’s a chapter in Freakonomics about how real estate agents actually aren’t incentivized to get you the most for your house; they’re incentivized to sell your house *quickly*. Houses owned by real estate ages are on the market longer and priced higher than the houses that are sold for clients… there is a thick layer of slime over the whole system, between the real estate matters and mortgage matters, and in the end I found myself just paying a whole bunch of charges that I suspected were pure junk, for the sake of being done and away from it all.

    But never mind. All that bad stuff was April. Now it’s the merry month of May!

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