A short sale lead
Yesterday I received a call about a possible short sale, even better it was a referral from a past client. It always feels good when you receive a referral. In this case the referral was about a home that was $90,000 underwater and the owners wanted out. They wanted to short sale, and what was even better is that they informed me they already had a buyer lined up. Easy money, right?
All I would have to do is submit a request for a short sale, turn a blind eye to any outside offers that come in and introduce our pre-arranged “buyer” as the only person willing to make a serious offer on his home. Everyone is happy, I get to close a quick and easy transaction – one whose result has already been pre-determined – collect my commission and call it a day. What could be easier! Except if I were to go through with such a deal I would be committing fraud and jeopardizing my real estate license.
I politely informed the lead that short selling his home to a straw buyer is something I would not do. As difficult as banks are to deal with (and believe me, you don’t know the meaning of the word difficult until you have dealt with the servicing departments these banks use to process short sales), I as a Realtor have a responsibility to my client. In the case of a short sale, the bank is a party in the transaction because of the seller’s negative equity position in the home. I have to do my best to recover as much money as possible from the short sale. If I limit the home’s exposure on the MLS or turn a blind eye to legitimate offers on the property, I become guilty of defrauding the bank.
When I carefully explained all of this to the lead, the response was, “Oh………………. so can you short sale my home????” I clearly wasn’t getting through to them. So once again I replied, saying that while they will undoubtedly find a real estate agent willing to go along with their scheme, that agent would not be me. I ended our conversation by informing them if they wanted to enter into a short-sale listing agreement with me, they would have to prove to the bank that they’re in a genuine financial hardship, let me expose their listing to the whole world via the MLS and other avenues and grant me the freedom to entertain all offers.
They ended up taking their business elsewhere.
The above example shows the ethical and moral dilemmas we working Realtors face every day. There are many Realtors who are all too happy to accept such deals and pocket the money. What’s the harm, right?