Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Do Agents Have A Double Standard When It Comes To Short Sale Listings?

Lately, I've been showing homes to some first time buyers that are showing up as short sales in the multiple listings.  And often, you don't have to look at the listing information to know it's not a "normal" situation.  And while short sale sellers are probably the neediest of clients, the efforts some of these agents are making are not at all comensurate with what it will take to produce a buyer for the property.

Here are some things I've noticed about most of these homes:

  • There is not Sentrilock box on the door, but a combination lock.  Since many agents are including the combo information in the MRIS comments, they are obviously not tracking showings, something we do for our "normal" sellers, or following up to get feedback.
  • There are no photos of the property posted with the listing - sometimes not even an exterior shot.
  • There are comments instucting agents not to call the lister, but to email any questions or comments.  So they clearly are not trying to sell the short sale listing to their colleagues who might have buyers.
  • There isn't always contact information for the people living in these properties, greatly increasing the possibility of our walking in on folks who are massively indisposed.  Yikes!
  • Forget about staging.  Short sales, even empty ones, are often filled with trash and debris and months old funky kitty litter.  

And, while some of the listing agents do understand the mechanics of the process, many are totally clueless.  It's not unusual to see short sales that have been listed prior to any contract with the lender or any paperwork started to get the short sale approved.

I certainly understand that short sales can present special challenges, both to the owners and the agents representing them.  The sellers often are very strapped financially and are unable to spend money to properly prepare the property for the market.  They are often under severe psychological stresses that go way beyond what they would otherwise be experiencing. And we're not even talking about what it takes to get the sellers lender to play nicely.

Still, unless you have agreed to list the home as a limited service agent, I think it's important to at least do the basics that it takes to get colleagues and prospective buyers in the door. 

And geeze Louise!  Answer your freakin' phone when a colleague calls for information or to register an offer.


Comment balloon 134 commentsPatricia Kennedy • January 23 2010 01:49PM


Amen! I am noticing more buyers asking not to see Short sales for many of the reasons you list above! The Listing Agents act like they don't have time to sell the listing and it is orphan until foreclosure...
Your friend in Washington State,

Posted by Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS, South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker! (Fathom Realty Washington LLC) almost 11 years ago

Patricia, I handle my short sale listings just as I would any other listing. Fully marketed. The only thing I can't do is spend my money to have it cleaned up unless the seller is able to pay for it in advance. On a normal listing I can do this because I can get reimbursed out the closing proceeds. The short sale lenders won't allow this and some of my sellers have no money. So....I end up with some crappy looking listings. But it is what it is. These sellers need help too.  I just don't place my sign in the yard :)

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 11 years ago

Unfortunately, the not answering the phone is not limited to short sale listings but some of the mega REO agents who only want to be contacted via email.  I do think a combo lockbox on an occupied home is problematic but it is definitely an issue when they give out the combo in the remarks.  I think a short sale needs to be treated just like any other listing.  However, some times the sellers are so strapped or just don't care that it's hard to get the place ready to show nicely.

Posted by Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh, A doctor who makes house calls. (Century 21 New Millennium) almost 11 years ago

Hi Pat!  You know, we work for the short seller JUST as we do any seller as SHOULD those who represent REO's and HUD properties.  It's sad that they don't--we call on HUD properties with questions for buyers ALL the time and NEVER (I don't mean sometimes, I MEAN never) do we get a response--email or phone--they post on MLS and that's ALL they do.  One photo (maybe) and a crappy write-up.  Don't the banks or the HUD offices check up on these people?  They're our clients too, like you said, and we OWE them the same service that we give our $1M re-sale and new construction clients!

There, I'm off my soap box now!  GREAT post!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, The right Charlotte REALTOR! ( | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) almost 11 years ago

I'm a big marketing fanatic, but sometimes with the short sales the property just doesn't show as well, so I only use one photo.  I'd rather get more traffic through because of a nice exterior shot and an attractive price that makes people curious, than to have interior shots that make potential buyers exclude it from their showings.  More foot traffic increases the likelihood of the seller getting an offer quickly.

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (Realty One Group Capital) almost 11 years ago

Patricia - In reality, only a skilled short sale agent should be listing these properties.  If the agent is doing the bare minimum at this stage, imagine what they are going to do when the real work begin in terms of negotiating with the bank and dealing with all the paperwork ?

Posted by The Somers Team, Delivering Real Estate Happiness (The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia) almost 11 years ago


My take on short sale listings is that I have to maarket them extra hard to encourage folks to ignore the more lengthy approval process and come take a look. Yeah, even when some banks still try to cut commissions. Shorts ARE much more work all the way round but I also carefully vet the sellers before taking the listing. I know of many in my area, however, who are just like you describe!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) almost 11 years ago

Unfortunately, there are agents that do all of the above on their non short sale listings too.  This is frustrating for agents and buyers particularly as the short sale process gets streamlined and banks get on board to make these happen.  It's unprofessional to take the listing if the agent isn't going to service it.  I'm shocked the REO banks don't check on listings.  I have had a bank that was getting ready to take a property back and he said they chose me because I had a presence in the community and they liked the way I marketed properties online.

Posted by Michele Reneau, Realtor, GRI ~ Charleston, SC Relocation Experts Team (Certified Staging Professional (CSP) Elite Instructor) almost 11 years ago

Pat, I market every home I list to the highest degree. One is no less important than the other and my clients appreciate that! I am working for them, not the bank if it is a short sale...and I carry a broom / dustpan in my trunk at all times in order to clean when necessary.

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!, So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR (Red Rock Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Pat ---- we are seeing so many listings here becomes "short sales" in the middle of negotiating a contract -- there is no sense in that at all.

Posted by Liz Loadholt, Realtor--Broker-in-charge - Trainer--Relocation Director Covering SC (Liz Loadholt- AgentOwned Realty- Covering SC) almost 11 years ago

I have a really good idea, if you don't know how to do a short sale. Refer it out or co-list with someone who does.

Posted by Mike Russell, Overland Park Kansas Real Estate (Mike Russell & Associates) almost 11 years ago

I have not seen this here, although there is an REO agent in Grants Pass who seems to have trouble returning phone calls.  As for short sales, I would thing the listing agent would want to get an offer as soon as possible so they can get the package into a negotiator and get it sold. 

Posted by Geoff ONeill (John L. Scott Medford) almost 11 years ago
Pat you are so right! I get really frustrated with the listing agents who are giving sloppy service with their short sale listings. All business should be conducted to the best of an agent's ability.
Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) almost 11 years ago


Listings in my area are marked in the local MLS as short sale, but a lot of agents in my area lack a lot of experience. That gets frustrating at times.

Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) almost 11 years ago

"And, while some of the listing agents do understand the mechanics of the process, many are totally clueless.  It's not unusual to see short sales that have been listed prior to any contract with the lender or any paperwork started to get the short sale approved." WOW - I COULD KISS YOU FOR THAT ONE!

Yet, we seem to have so many experts here. Standards? That's the problem. We got letters at the end of our names that mean nothing. Oh, my I may have just crossed the COE line. oops!

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) almost 11 years ago

I agree that many agents are neglecting basic responsibilities to their sellers with some of these short sale listings. The fact that there are no photos after a week is a red flag and a possible sign that the agent may not be trying to get the highest and best offer but trying to double end the deal.  It can be that agents are just too busy at times and I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. But as an experienced agent I have seen some strange behavior among some listing agents. We can only hope that integrity will prevail and agents will begin to take pride in providing superior service to their clients.

Posted by Jesse Madison, List For Less...Sell for More | 1% List Fee! (One Point Plus Real Estate) almost 11 years ago


Great post.  It's a shame when the professionalism isn't there.  Great idea in comments to refer it out if you are not up on short sales.  

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) almost 11 years ago

It has been my experience that some lenders will not review a short sale package without an offer included in the package.  The important thing is to check with the lender to see what their process is in reviewing a short sale.  Some lenders want to be involved in the process of determning an acceptable listing price while others want to see an offfer, and then order an appraisal review to determine if they want to counteroffer.

Posted by Maureen Megowan, Palos Verdes Real Estate Blog (Remax Estate Properties - ) almost 11 years ago

All the short sale listings in my area have had supra lockboxes, the only listings that don't are REOs where banks require a combo box.  And none of them have looked distressed at all.  WOW is all I can say.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 11 years ago

Patricia - I often wonder if there is a double standard or no standard at all for some of these listing agents.

Posted by Michelle Gibson, REALTOR (Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. ) almost 11 years ago

Sadly, many of these do treat their normal sellers the same way.  I have the same beef with many REO agents.  And many with combo boxes do that because they are playing a numbers game, list a ton of shorts, maybe one will go through, and the combos are cheaper.  It's aggravating.  We also have 1 here that list shorts with a 1% BUYER premium to pay for a 3rd party short negotiation.  I feel bad for his listings, who have to suffer the extra stigma of adding another 1% to the buyers' closing costs just because they used that agent to list.  

Posted by Joel Weihe, Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits (Realty World Alliance) almost 11 years ago

Pat, My friends have been waiting (and waiting) for a short sale to come through.  In the last month or so their realtor hasn't even answered their phone calls.  I don't believe the real estate agent has the expertise it takes to handle the challanges and doesn't want to be bothered.  How sad.

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) almost 11 years ago

Short sales are special.  There, I said it.  But, the short sale client deserves some respect.  Do you want referrals from them?  Would you like to sell the property?  Our MLS requires at least one photo.  No photo?  Fine.  It isn't pretty.  When I see this type of non-activity, and it happens frequently on HUD property, too, I cringe because it gives us all a bad rep.  Talking to the broker might help. 

Posted by Suzanne McLaughlin, Sabinske & Associates, Realtor (Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael)) almost 11 years ago

That's what surprised me. It is as if the Listing agent was forced to take the listing under the gun. did not want it, but had to.

This is terrible.

Do not want it - do not take it.

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) almost 11 years ago

Hi Pat -- Very true.  I've had even worse luck with foreclosed homes.  Good luck trying to get a response from a listing agent, surely not all, but many.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) almost 11 years ago

Pat:  While I can't get all of my short sale sellers to stage, I am proud to say I do not violate anything else on your list of short sale agent gripes.  :)

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 11 years ago

It appears to be happening everywhere.  Lack of photos, combination lock boxes, inability to contact the listing agent are a regular occurrence.  Unfortunate for the seller and for other agents because it gives us all a bad reputation of being overpaid and not treating all seller's equally.

Posted by Sun City Grand Homes Surprise AZ Real Estate Leolinda Bowers Designated Broker Leolinda Realty, Sun City Grand in Surprise Arizona (Leolinda Realty) almost 11 years ago

Boy oh boy have hit on one of the things that makes me crazy the most.  REAL ESTATE AGENTS WHO DO NOT HAVE THE COMMON COURTESY TO ACT LIKE A REAL ESTATE AGENT.  Meaning....service your client, whether they be bank, short seller or standard seller.  Why don't they ALL get the exact same service????

And, what the hell makes these agents (MEGA AGENTS???--LOL) so important that they cannot take phone calls?  Give me a break.  Then have someone on your ""TEAM"" take and/or return phone calls.  It just ain't right, I tell ya!


Posted by Jean Hanley, Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes (Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters) almost 11 years ago

I think it depends on the agent.  We see plenty that are treating them just like any listing and others who are warehouses who must be working on percentages.  If they list 50 and 20 of them close then they are having a good year.  Bah not the way to run a real estate business. 

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 11 years ago

Ugh... I have found that with many short sale and REO agents.  Most that list properties in my area our not actually from the area and most often have combo locks with instructions "just go show."  Rarely (if ever) do I receive a request for feedback.  I called an agent just last week to register an offer and never received a call back.  I went to the website to load it and then I got a call letting me know that is had already gone pending.  The status was not changed to pending until several days later, leading me to believe that he had the buyer and was trying to work something out between the two parties.  That being said I recently had a buyer client who purchased a short sale (Wells Fargo) and it closed in under two months.  Everything went so smoothly and I was pleasantly surprised!

Posted by Michael & Shelley Kefauver, Realtors - York, PA (Prudential Bob Yost Homesale Services (West)) almost 11 years ago

In California we have a fiduciary to our sellers whether short sale or not.

NOW, I have had a couple of sellers who have requested NO signage, NO lockbox and by appt only.

We will be having another listing coming on that has requested the above.

It is due to personal issues and I honor such. They promise me they will cooperate to allow any agent or broker to show. If they don't and I get reports back as such we revisit the situation and if a remedy cannot be reached I will drop the listing.

Pictures are a must! Bringing out the best features is also a must!

 Some sellers are suffering depression, most have no money and that is why they are doing short sales and staging at a huge price is not business savvy or cost conscious to either seller or agent. We ask our clients to clean up as much as possible and remove as many things as possible to allow it to show better. Most comply. Some just do not care anymore. Can you blame them? They are losing their home and they cannot make a profit.

In terms of time it takes for a response.....some are still taking has nothing to do with the listing many  cases.....

Depending on the lender will depend if they will approve a short sale prior to going on the market and/or request that the seller misses a payment but just about all of them do request an Authorization to communicate on behalf of our clients up front to get into the system.

Many of our clients were told to get an agent and list for short sale and when we call in the lenders just want the whole package sent in at once. Others will request us to send in the listing information up front and then just send in purchase offer when they come in.

Wachovia has become the best in pre approved short sale approvals. Wells Fargo is cleaning up their act.

BofA is using another system (still in trial and error) to streamline.

I cannot speak for other listing agents. I can only speak for Catherine and I. I can tell you that we give the same care to our short sales as any listing and we put in a lot more hours and take a lot of beatings from all sides. We have been very successful in our closings.

We do not take no for an least the first five No's......on occasion we go thru a few more no's before it comes to a YES. Most agents give up after the first no , some after the 2nd no.

Most agents who have not performed short sales have absolutely no idea what goes on behind the scenes. We have challenged appraisals. We have gone above the negotiators heads in more than one occasion. It may take several emails and phone calls but we will find the right person to help us move things along. We have been talked down to, yelled at, ridiculed by negotiators and that all we are interested in is our commission. We have been told time and again {"if we(the banks ) are taking a loss}" you as a realtor need to take a loss also. So we fight to maintain the integrity of our commission which is split with cooperating broker......Most of these cooperating agents appreciate that.

I recently spent 7 days in a row on phone calls on one client for at least 2 hours each day before we were able to identify the glitch and get moving again on the short sale. Need I tell you how many customer service reps I went thru?

Short sales are not short. Short sales requires patience, knowledge, leadership, follow through, persistence and as indicated above not taking NO for an answer.

I represented buyer in one case, a seller in another where the short sale was declined and on my listing we submitted same offer and for the buyer had the listing agent resubmit(he thought i was crazy) the same offer and both were approved the second time around. The buyer did pay a little bit more but was very happy that he hung in there and closed.

In terms of obtaining buyers in a short sale? It is everything about the pricing.  You can have the prettiest home ever but if it is priced wrong as a short sale will sit for months on end. An experienced agent(buyer or seller representation) will take into account recent like sales and the history of the lenders time frames providing short sale approval and the market stability. We will typically price within 10-20% of the current market unless it has turned hot again and price the same as last comparable close. Yes we have micro real estate climates where sales have stabilized.....maybe not much increase in prices but stabilized so that we know the best price to list for.

I realize that each community and areas are seeing varying results from short sales and all of that does need to be taken into account.

If a buyer is wanting a 30 day close, UNLESS it is a Wachovia loan the sellers has, short sales is not their best choice. If they have found a home and are willing to wait knowing there are no guarantees most of the time they will be rewarded.


Posted by Terry Osburn, Broker Associate (BHHS|Drysdale Properties) almost 11 years ago

Hi Pat,


The listing agent on a short sale represents the seller. There is no excuse for being a horrible agent, because the seller owes more than the property is worth.

I am a short sale listing broker and my listings are complete, have seller's disclosure and offer guidelines attached to the MLS, have SUPRA (electronic lockboxes) and COMPLETE showing instructions for agents to retrieve at ANYTIME, agents do not need to call me and wait for a call back.. everything they need to know to show the home is on the MLS listing.

Even when I take a listing in a lower price point, I do a little "Hollywooding" in order for the pictures to be decent. If the property is dirty, I request that my seller pays for a cleaning.. I explain to the seller how important it is for a home to be clean and debris free... the seller is very likely to have the funds to pay for a cleaning ($100 to $200) and in the case they don't have the funds, they can do it themselves and have family and friends who can help.

You wrote: "It's not unusual to see short sales that have been listed prior to any contract with the lender or any paperwork started to get the short sale approved."'

Please realize that "contract, contact or approval" from the bank is NOT necessary to list a home as a short sale and to obtain a short sale approval. A seller qualifies for a short sale if the seller has a hardship, is insolvent and has a monthly income shortfall.

Most lenders do not work on a short sale file until there is a contract on the home. Lenders might ask for a listing agreement upfront and maybe a couple of other documents, (of course third party authorization is a must to be able to speak on the file), but besides that, the most common (unfortunately) procedure is for the lender to receive a contract in order to submit the file for investor approval. There are exceptions to this and they vary from lender to lender and investor to investor.

I cannot emphasize how important experience is.. if an agent is not educated and experienced in short sales they should not put their sellers in a vulnerable position - it is not worth it.

But being angry at short sales and/or not showing short sale listings is probably not the solution to surviving and being successful in this market. I wrote this blog a while help my buyer's agent friends succeed in their transactions.

A Buyer's Agent guide to successful short sale transactions.


Help lots of people and have a great day!

Patty Da Silva, CDPE©, RESS®, AHWD®, e-PRO®, GREEN, CFS

Visit for SouthEast Florida's best properties.

Posted by Patty Da Silva, Davie, Southwest Ranches Cooper City, Plantation, Weston, REALTOR, Top Listing Broker (BROKER of Green Realty Properties® - 954-667-7253) almost 11 years ago

Maybe the listing agent doesn't want to cobroke and do a direct deal and collect more commission, maybe the listing agent is very lazy and see's the short sale as an excuse not to do any work.  Whatever the reason, the owner is not going to enjoy working with that agent one bit.

Posted by Morgan Evans, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Pat - amazing, isn't it!!! At least down here our MLS insists upon at least a single photo or the listing agent is fined. I do my BEST to avoid short sales for all the reasons you listed and many more!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 11 years ago

We don't have that many short sales in my immediate area.  However, I would think that they require more attention.  I  know that with the few we have, buyers are very leary because of the time factor.  So prompt attention from the listing side is essential...otherwise its really almost impossible from the buyer's agent perspective.  The few that I have had contact with as the buyers agent - the listing agents have been excellent as far as returning calls etc.  The banks...another story.

Posted by Ruthmarie Hicks (Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605) almost 11 years ago

Pat, Excellent post! I love some of the day-long responses...posts unto themselves! I believe that if you are going to take ANY listing, then try to sell it, or get out of the business. The hanky-panky of trying to double dip and such is why we should all have to abide by the code of ethics put forth by Realtors..which would mean, you can't just be an have to join the club, pay your dues, and pay attention.

Posted by Jane Cross (Homes By Cross serving Charlotte NC Real Estate Needs) almost 11 years ago

Pat -I love this post. What more needs to be said. There are some short sale agents who do an excellent job, and the homes look like any equity sale. But so many do not. And teh phone adn email thing...well, we could go on and on about that, couldn't we?!


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

AMEN!  I was jumping up and down clapping while I was reading this post!  OR there are no lockboxes OR there is an uncooperative tenant OR they keep it in active status until the short sale contingency is fulfilled (generating a million contracts).  Blah and it marches on.  I wish there was more COALD (care, obediance, accountability, loyalty and disclosure) used in these and REO listings.

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) almost 11 years ago

You hit a nerve!

...Not only do these UN-professional agents deserve a beating for frustrating the hell out of the agents trying to sell their listings, they should be crucified for putting a client further in harm's way by not doing the least of what is expected of them, "Professionally"!

They only help to perpetuate the negative perception we sometimes deal with on "opinion polls" that rank real estate agents somewhere around snake oil salesmen and ambulance chasing attorneys.

If they don't have the "Inner" code, then, at the very least, pay some heed to the written COE.

I agree with Jane (#38). Basically, put up or shut up. The rest of us aren't here to carry them on deals, either.

Remember the old saying about a chain only being as strong as its weakest link...

OK...I feel much better now. Double espresso just can't be healthy...

All the best!

Brian Morgenweck, Broker/Owner

Power Realty Group, Hackensack, NJ


Posted by Brian Morgenweck, Broker/Owner, GRI, CRS, ABR, SRS (Power Realty Group, LLC Bergen County, NJ ) almost 11 years ago

Sounds to me like these agents are suffering from "REO-itis." I see that sort of lackadaisical thing from REO agents who know the asset manager will never know otherwise, but with short sale clients they need more, not less, in the caring department. I do plenty of short sales. It is unconscionable to treat them like 2nd class listings. 

Posted by Ann Faranda (J Philip Real Estate LLC) almost 11 years ago

Why do they do such a thing? Because the sellers have no recourse? Because they think they have the sellers under their thumb? Because, as Ann says, they have REO-itis? 

We break our backs for our short sale clients. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) almost 11 years ago

Pat, Short sales are typically so much more work, time and effort than a normal listing. As professionals it is imperative that these listings be handled with the same thoroughness and professionalism in which we handle our other listings. 

Posted by Sandy Shores FL Realtor®, Melbourne Real Estate, Brevard County Real Estate, Florida's Space Coast (M & M Realty of Brevard Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Pat - I think people can smell the the same signs you do. It is a begging question of "Why does information differ".

Mentally Flagged on first glance.

Posted by Claude Cross, Charlotte NC Homes For Sale (Homes By Cross, Inc. ) almost 11 years ago

You may need to petition your MLS to add this disclosure to the property listing information!

Posted by Dale Taylor, Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos (Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois) almost 11 years ago

Oh my. I have not experienced any of this unfortunate behavior in my market....yet.

Posted by Sibley Poland, 15 Years of Professional Experience (RE/MAX Stars Realty) almost 11 years ago

Pat -- This is a GREAT post and timely for me. I am listing a short tomorrow and just finished the brochures and property website.  Yes, I pull out all the stops.  No different than any other listing. 

Those who don't do or want to do what is expected should just refer to an experienced short sale agent. 

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Patricia, you have decribed the Agent that just makes me sick to my stomache and they seem to be everywhere. How can an Agent take on a Short Sale Listing and lack in any initiative to get the home sold. They're like leeches in my eyes just to get a listing. Yet, I don't understand their mentality in just trying to get a listing because the liklihood of them actually selling the home are grim. They are just like all the other parties who try to thrive on the weak in our neighboring cities and the Sellers have no idea that they are headed down a dead end street when their home should have been listed by somebody who will work hard to help them avoid foreclosure. It's criminal. As I"ve always said; it's better to refer it out to an Agent who specializes in Short Sales, as I do.  I make sure that my distressed Sellers homes are presented in the best of light and I have even staged my Short Sales. Plus I put the most photos that my MLS will allow.


Posted by Lynn Pineda, Real Estate Promises delivered in SE Florida (eXp Realty) almost 11 years ago

Patricia - So much here is so true.

Short sales add a few more dimensions to the complications.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking care of our clients.

As to staging, I still ask my clients to do the necessary work, as most can't/won't pay and am happy to offer suggestions and recommendations.  This is a good way to save money on staging, have the sellers provide their own elbow grease and use what they already have to its best use.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) almost 11 years ago

Like most things, there is good and bad in everything.  Thanks for the post.

Patricia/Seacoast NH

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) almost 11 years ago

Patricia - Someone else's misfortune is not an excuse for us to bring less than our best to the table.


Posted by Michael Bergin, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - ABR - SRES ) almost 11 years ago


I often wonder why these listing agents do such a poor job. There is no excuse for it!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) almost 11 years ago

Patricia- We list a lot of short sales. We have a staff to help us because we can not handle 40 to 50 listings without help. 

But most lenders will not even consider a short sale without an offer. So you can not start the short sale process. Agents who do that are part of the reason for the bottleneck. This is one of the complaints lenders have about agents who don't know how to do short sales. They send in paperwork without offers. 

We do not list any short sales without the seller having completed all the short sale paperwork. In fact, it is our policy to not even send them their listing agreement without having the short sale package in our possession. Of course, I have already done a one hour intake evaluation on the phone with them to make sure they are a candidate for a short sale. 

There is a lot more work involved in a short sale so we do look for short cuts along the way. Such as we do 90% of our listings over the phone and email. This is not a limited service because we are going to be spending hours on the phone with their lenders. 

Every part of the country is different. Here in our MLS we ALL put withheld for the seller info. No agent here would dare to call a seller direct. We set up all of our showings online and through email. That is a full service- it may not be to some agents- but that is a very effective way to manage the amount of calls that come into our office. What would the seller rather have, his showings set up through email and with courtesy and us spend out time on the phone processing his short sale, or spend all day long setting up showings and then perhaps miss a call from his lender?

Most of our short sales are vacant properties. All vacant properties have combo lock boxes on them because the agents that show these short sales may be coming from 3 counties away to show. All owner occupieds or tenant occupied have specific showing instructions and supras or no lock box at all. We have tenant occupied who will not allow any box. 

We just listed a property the other day, put it on the mls with one photo. Within 2 days, way before we had it on our schedule to go take the photos, we had 6 offers on it. No need to go take the photos now so I have stopped judging agent who may not have photos yet on the mls. There are some of our listings where the tenants won't allow any photos other than the exterior. So those only get one photo. 

We have a system and it works. It is efficient. The business model changes with the times and the needs of both the sellers and us. We still have our non short sales that are  luxury properties where we have tons of photos and we must accompany all showings. Each listing is customized for the situation and the needs. Katerina 

Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) almost 11 years ago

I'm totally on board with you on the short sale/REO listings. 

Since one commenter also mentioned HUD I have to point out that the fee structure with HUD (at least in TN) is basically like a limited service listing except with a lot more work for a LOT less money than limited service. HUD agents are working for way below minimum wage unless they pick up the buyer side. I would assume that HUD knows they are getting what they pay for.

Posted by Julia Odom, Chattanooga Homes for Sale (Select Realty Professionals) almost 11 years ago

I  handle my short sales in the same manner that I handle listings that are not short sales. I owe a fiduciary responsibility to my sellers to provide identical services. Can't imagine an agent who wouldn't.

As for condition of the property, I'm with Broker Bryant on this one. Lots of short sale sellers have no money to spend toward fixing up the property. But generally the price of the home compensates when the home is messy and unstaged.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) almost 11 years ago

Even on short sales, I require my sellers to stage.  If they want their house to stand out from the other riff raff, they need to do something besides price it lower than the others.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - almost 11 years ago

Comment #35-Morgan- Most lenders will not approve a full commission on double dips so I doubt that is the issue.

Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) almost 11 years ago

Agents need to take every listing the same and put the time and energy into it.  I get so dissapointed when all the information is not there.

Posted by Sajy Mathew, Making your real estate dreams become a reality! (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 11 years ago

Pat, a short sale needs complete marketing just like any other listing - even better marketing because there is a time clock ticking. Sounds like an REO agent more than a normal listing agent to me.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 11 years ago

Pat - Great post!  I will have to address two things: 

1)  Requesting to be contacted via email only - I actually do that.  Here's why:  When we list a property, we get flooded - FLOODED - with calls from Realtors.  It literally takes a full-time telephone operator to handle the calls.  Our instructions are very specific and we require them to email us with x,y and z to show the property.  We respond to their email in about 60 seconds.  It is a much more efficient way for our office to operate and we don't feel like we are compromising service.  Buyer's agents actually compliment our quick response. 

2)  We always withhold our seller's information (name and number) in the MLS and require all communication to come in through our office.  Our sellers appreciate that they are not contacted by numerous agents and they don't have to feel compelled to answer questions or be put on the spot. 

Our office procedures actually work very nicely.

That aside, kudos for a great post - especially the lockbox bit!

Posted by Laurel Starks, Divorce Real Estate Expert (Divorce Real Estate Institute, LLC) almost 11 years ago

 I often wonder why they even take the listing.  I have a neighborhood that I farm so when a short-sale recently came on the market in that neighborhood, I called the listing agent and asked to hold the home open for her (we work for the same brokerage).  I was surprised when she said, "You do know this is a short-sale, don't you?"  My response was, "Yes, that's why I want to work it."  She was shocked, to say the least.  Anyhow, I show up the day of the open and the house was freezing.  The heat was turned off in December.  It was about 35 degrees in the house.  I tried to turn on the furnace but it wouldn't go on.  I called her and she said the pilot wasn't lit.  I told her it was freezing in the house and it was going to literally drop below freezing in a few days and that if she didn't want frozen pipes, she should get the pilot lit.  Her response was, "Whatever".  Needless to say, I had several couples that day but they didn't stay long because the house was so cold.  Guess what, the house is still on the market even though it's a great house at a great price.  My guess is she's not marketing it and doesn't care.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) almost 11 years ago

Distressed situations are really sad and it's unfortunate that it's accentuated by what you've described.  I know we need to get through this short sale deluge.  I just hope I personally can continue to work a market where there aren't many.

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Compass) almost 11 years ago

WOW. I personally love a short sale. once you get to know them they can be a great source. other agents wont take short sales. I have been given short sales and they don't even ask for a referral fee. I say why not take a hard part of the job and make it fun. if these are the majority of the market (which they are in Watertown WI) hay not take the larger portion of the market rather then fighting over the smaller part.

Posted by James Wright, SFR E-Pro (Shorewest Realtors) almost 11 years ago


Agents like them should not handle a short sale listing. They should be educated, have the knowledge, should know the actual short sale process and what the banks are looking for in order to approve it. I have done tons of BPO's and I have seen so many listings without even a single photo of the home. That's very unprofessional.

Posted by Freddie Gonzales, CRS, GRI, RDCPro (WEM PACIFIC Investments, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

I will start noticing to see if I see the same trends. I have not yet but maybe I have not picked up on it yet.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge almost 11 years ago

From the desk of David Dee,

Patricia, I hear what you're saying. There are listings I've seen where there are very limited descriptions of the property. It's hard to sell if an agent does not have the time to describe the features of the property. Also, those not answering the phone calls can be annoying when you're trying to set up an appointment but never get a return call.

Posted by David Dee, Real Estate - San Gabriel Valley (L.A.) & N. Orang (RMX REALTY) almost 11 years ago
I haven't seen this yet in my area. It's probably sure to come. Their are always those that don't service their clients as they should.
Posted by Trisha P Realty Group, "Holding the Keys to Your Dream Home" (Realty Executives) almost 11 years ago

It is like the "Goodwill Store" of real estate. Let me take that back. The Goodwill stores have better customer service


Posted by Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv (REISA - 317-663-4173) almost 11 years ago

The job is poorly done because 80% of agents are doing Real Estate on the side. Let's face it, they do have a job these days, due to the economy...

Posted by Claude THOMAS (Rossman Realty Group) almost 11 years ago

I totally agree-not only is it not fair to the seller, its also not fair to prospective buyers. How can I sell your listing to my buyer, or even engage my buyer, if you have no pictures or information. It is not an excuse that you have another job-this is my ONLY job and I am trying to do it well, obviously without any help from you.

Posted by Lisa Schlitz, Realtor - Wellington, Florida Homes 561-214-3216 (Home Run Real Estate, Inc.) almost 11 years ago


Yes, this is really a problem. When I have a buyer interested in a short sale I call the listing and first ask if they are an experoenced short sale lister. The ask who the lender is. I am basically trying to avoid the problems that occur with so many short sales.

Posted by Glenn Weilbacher (Watson Realty) almost 11 years ago

We take the opposite view - if we are going to carry short sale inventory - let's get it sold as quickly as possible !

Posted by Janice Roosevelt, OICP ABR, ePRO,Ecobroker ( Keller Williams Brandywine Valley ) almost 11 years ago

I see it more with foreclosures, the combo, lack of photos etc.

Also what you said here, 'And, while some of the listing agents do understand the mechanics of the process, many are totally clueless.  It's not unusual to see short sales that have been listed prior to any contract with the lender or any paperwork started to get the short sale approved."

When I see this I rarely show, because the chance of getting it approved are SLIM to none.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 11 years ago

I generally will not show a short sale to buyers that:

1.  Doesn't have photos besides an exterior shot (our MLS requires an exterior shot at minimum) because I know that means the house is likely trashed.

2.  The agent hasn't called me back to answer my questions about whether the home has had any offers yet, or has one currently, or to tell me more about the status of the short sale.

3.  Has a Bank of America loan on it - well I bend on this one sometimes depending on who the other Realtor is and how versed they are in getting short sales closed.


Also my technique with short sales is if we submit an offer, we write in "If Seller accepts Buyers offer, this contract shall be the only one submitted to the lender for 3rd party approval and listing shall be made PENDING on MLS" because in Florida, agents are submitting dozens of offers on short sales to the lender and all those buyers all think they are getting the same house - its crazy.  Also when I have short sale listings, I use a great company that handles all the negotiation and miraculously gets my short sales closed faster than I have been able to on my own - so I'm thinking going forward if the other Realtor doesn't have such a negotiator, I will offer to have mine handle the negotiations and I will pay the negotiators fee - its worth it to get one closed in 2 months instead of 8!

Posted by Liane Jamason, Top 1% Real Estate Broker - St. Petersburg, FL (Smith & Associates Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Short sales should be full service or nothing.  Too much is depending on the home being shown and selling.

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) almost 11 years ago

Here in Tampa Bay, we have alot of short sale listings. They are fully marketed with photos, tours and the entire package. I think if you are going to do a job, do it well.

Posted by Dick and Dixie Sells, Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale (Sells Real Estate, LLC) almost 11 years ago

Here in Tampa Bay, we have alot of short sale listings. They are fully marketed with photos, tours and the entire package. I think if you are going to do a job, do it well.

Posted by Dick and Dixie Sells, Realtors, Tampa Bay Florida Homes For Sale (Sells Real Estate, LLC) almost 11 years ago

Standards!  One word in your title... Standards...  that is the key.  The Broker is to set those, aren't they? 

We all know within our own company and within our local community of Realtors, there are different standards ar work.  It goes beyond the company's required standards, it goes to the individual agent's character.  A client will only get as good of service as the agent they are working with. 

I am working a short sale offer.  In preperation of the offer, I contacted the listing agent for any known docs, bank letter, or specifics needed.  I followed those instructions, wrote the offer Friday and delivered it.  Then a co-listing agent phoned and told me there are other things needed, and it will not be presented until I get that.  UGH!  The buyer I am working with, knows I made the contact to bring all needed items for the offer to be presented...  I am not the one that looks unprofessional..  but it still hangs a negative component to the process.

Regarding the incomplete MLS info and no photos...  isn't there MLS rules and regs with the Board with minimum requirements?  Brokers  do you take a look at MLS new listings daily?  I know you do...  how does your listing info compare to the others?  How does it represent your character? Is your best foot forward?  J

Posted by Janice K Moores, Broker, GRI, SFR (First Realty Company) almost 11 years ago

We take a lot of short sale listings in Sourthern California. While we pretty much attend to all of our listings equally, we do sometimes use the combination lockbox. I do not like it either, but sometimes there are overriding reasons that we do that.

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) almost 11 years ago

Great comments and blog...we need to be in the business of helping people too!

Posted by Ashley Miller (RE/MAX Professional Partners) almost 11 years ago

A short sale listing is still a home that is owned by someone typically still in the house. I still sign an agreement to represent them. I still follow the Code of Ethics. I take pictures, do virtual tours, slideshows, etc. I also use Supra electronic boxes for occupied properties. However, what you are describing happens way too much. It's as if some Realtors are saying let's get in on the action. This is no place for on the job training nor lesser service. It requires more expertise, and more work.  

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) almost 11 years ago

I work my short sales like any other listing, Full marketing!

I do not bother with staging any of my short sales or REO listings. Buyers love to see a home in distress, They know they are getting a deal, and on the most part love the fact that they can fix the home up the way they want it.

I use Supra lock boxes on my short sale listings until I get the home under contract then I change the lock box to a combination. This way the appraiser has to call me to get into the home.

Posted by Roy & Gail Barnhart & McKay, Barnhart & McKay Home Selling Team (Barnhart & McKay Realty Advisors) almost 11 years ago

we find htat short sales are not always approved based on monthly income shortfalls, or the like... many lenders will not consider a short sale unless the homeowner is already behind in their payments, and often not if the owner has other property...

But that being what it is, we do find that many "specialists" are not so special, and dont really know what they are doing, and spend their entire time recruiting more listings, rather than selling any of the ones they already have... sad, but true.

Posted by Paul Silver, Rhode Island full service real estate firm almost 11 years ago

I think the use of the short sale is being abused. The abuse is due to false advertising. It is generally believed that if an offer is presented at full list price as advertised in the MLS one would have a good chance of the offer being accepted.


 Advertising in the MLS is not an offer to sell, it is only a solicitation of offers so there is no contractual obligation of the seller to sell at any price. However there are reasonable expectations and in many MLS rules that the seller has the ability to transfer the property with a clean title at the list price.  Advertising the property at a price at which a third party would be required to accept a payment which is less than which they are entitled is false advertisement even if someplace in the fine print it is disclosed that the listing is a short sale. That is tantamount to advertising at a price known to be well below market expectations but burying in the advertisement the disclaimer "But Not Really." Often such disclaimers are only available in the agents only portions of the MLS. This is a perfect circumstance for listing agents to conduct bait and switch advertising campaigns. If one cannot deliver a product at the list price the MLS advertising is false.


One of the unintended consequences of allowing short sales to be advertised at arbitrary list prices is that the general public is misled. The general public reviewing available properties, whether they be buyers or sellers of similar properties are led to believe that there are similar properties that can be purchased at much reduced prices. This has the capacity to further depress the market through the general public's expectations. These expectations are fueled by non-events. The general public has the reasonable expectation that properties may be acquired at the advertised prices. They should not be required to dig behind the scenes to find that the advertised prices are pure fiction and those promoting the fiction are without accountability. I do not blame the lenders because they most often have no idea a short sale is being advertised at potentially their expense. I cannot find fault with the lender for trying to minimize their loss, if any. I suggest that  professional real estate brokers be required to list properties at no lower price than the price at which clean title may be reasonably expected to be delivered. This may be accomplished by pricing the property from the bottom up. Computing the price at which all of the liens and other payment requirements of selling may be satisfied including any funds that the seller is willing to bring to the closing. If a concession is agreeable to a lender or any other lien holder that concession should be negotiated and agreed in writing before a list price requiring such a concession is advertised. If the lender or other lien holder will not agree to a concession in writing before the broker lists the property then the broker may only list the property at a price that will satisfy all claims. The listing agent could then advertise that a short sale will be entertained by the seller subject to third party approval please make your offer if the listing agreement authorizes such a statement.  The requirement that I am suggesting should also give some comfort to the lenders. Why should the lenders act quickly and favorably to short sales presented to them that were only advertised at prices intentionally low enough to elicit from the buying public the expectation that the property advertised is a no-brainer bargain deal.



Posted by William Queen (William D. Queen, Real Estate Broker, Richmond, Virginia) almost 11 years ago

Very well said, Bill (#86). The problem is within our own ranks. Some who have initials at the end of their name and others who are claiming some sort of expertise in the matter. False advertising is what is being presented to the public.

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) almost 11 years ago


There are realtors in our local MLS who will give out lockbox combos over the phone. Talk about liability.

Posted by Walter Grewe III, Realtor, SFR, A-REO, Roanoke Homes and Real Estate (Long and Foster Realtors) almost 11 years ago

I don't get it Pat why agents don't answer their phones and return calls - in this market it is ludicrous. But I do agree that agents do need to counsel and provide similar assistance to all their clients regardless of the status of the listing....

Posted by Kathy Knight, BROKER, ABR, CRS, GRI, SFR, SRES (Intracoastal Realty Corp) almost 11 years ago

Patricia - before showing short sale listings to my buyers, I check on the listing agent.  I have found that many agents do treat short sale listing differently and don't counsel the seller, don't market the property and don't know how to get the short sale approved.  We have some very good agents who specialize in short sales in the Sacramento area and I will always show their listings and love to work with them.  However, the other ones I won't even show their listings as I know it is a waste of my buyer's energy; we need to just move on.

Posted by Lori Mode, Real Estate Made Simple (The Mode Real Estate Group) almost 11 years ago

Pat - I am so with you.  I have a short sale under contract with a buyer and the listing agent seems to never want to return a call or give any kind of updates.  I am quite sure he doesn't act this with all his listings.

It is so frustrating!

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) almost 11 years ago


There is no question about it, and I inspect many of these, that there are different standards. The buyers usually do not expect much but they hope for dirt cheap prices. They often buy with no clue of the conditions at the house since water, gas and electricity are often off.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Many of the short sale listings are just postponing the inevitable--foreclosure. What really peeves me is seeing a listing for a house clearly worth 30-50k more than the listing price. We as buyers agents must explain to our buyers that there is no way the lender will take that much for the short. I know, I know we are just fishing for buyers. Well as a BPO agent for many of these properties, I can tell you I am going to value what I see in the market, not what you hope I will come in with.  I have had agents try to bribe me into giving them a lowball evaluation so that I can help perpetuate the scam. Homes will sell at fair market value if all conditions are right. Unfortunately there are still too many steps involved in short sales to make them close in a predictable time frame. Until that changes selling a short will not have a really positive outcome.

Posted by Kathy Fuhriman (Bear River Valley Realty) almost 11 years ago

Patricia, I market Ann Arbor short sale listings just as I would any other listing. Fully marketed and ready to lock and load.. I suggest to anybody here taking the CDPE class to get a handle on the process and help our industry rise above some of the conduct mentioned here.

Posted by Kathy Toth, Ann Arbor Real Estate Experts - Kathy Toth Team (Ann Arbor Market Center Keller Williams) almost 11 years ago

Good Morning Patricia,

Congratulations on the feature and this is certainly a post that many of us can relate to. One of the reasons that dealing with short sales is so frustrating for me is that many times the listing agent is clearly not doing the job that they have contracted for. Around here at least it strikes me as" too frequent".


Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) almost 11 years ago

No doubt here in Las Vegas short sales take EXTRA effort to get sold with so many bank owned homes available. Irregardless, I ALWAYS give ALL listings 110% effort

Posted by Jeffrey Burnham, The Wizard (Choice One Properties & Mgt) almost 11 years ago

I am still amazed at the link of research people do in picking an agent ESPECIALLY when it comes to a short aale. You would think when someone is on the doorstep of foreclosure they would want the best agent representing them. I see agents in my market that don't know the 1st thing about short sales taking them on just to put a listing in their inventory. It sickens me!!

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 11 years ago

Your blog is so true.  I think in the rush for listings and the desperate nature of real estate agents here in Washington, the professional nature of what to do with a listing falls by the wayside.  In a lot of cases, agents have no idea how to manage the process and have no ability to talk to the lenders.  I usually talk to the agents before showing the home and if they don't have the direct contact with the lenders, I advise my clients to pass on it. 

As agents, we must take a more aggressive roll in these listings.  First of all, WE are the real estate professionals and don't forget that.  Bankers and other lenders are trying to figure out how decrease the loss they are going to take.  They do not know the market like agents do.  If you cannot handle the process let someone else list it.  Don't rely on a paid negotiator to bail you out.  By having a paid negotiator, you've just told everyone involved and your fellow agents, that you do not know what to do.  Also, get the listing correct and complete. 

Posted by Dave Sato (eXp Realty LLC) almost 11 years ago

Well said!!  Information and service is what we offer.

Posted by Paul Todd, Vacation and Second Homes Sales and Management - Mentone Alabama (Mentone Cabins Realty, LLC) almost 11 years ago

In our market it is getting to the point where short sales are the biggest segment and you cannot ignore them.  I used to avoid showing them.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

patricia, we handle short sales like any other listing. However, 90% of them are just as you describe. it doesn't make business sense.

Posted by Ted Tyndall, I will help You find the Home YOU want to Buy (Davidson Realty Inc.) almost 11 years ago

I also market short sales the same way I would market regular sales.  In fact, it's more difficult to sell a short sale since so many buyers pass them up. 

I have gone in listings and done a little clean-up myself.  I'll have my family help me if necessary.

Posted by Judy Orr, SW & Near West Chicago suburbs (HomeSmart Realty Group) almost 11 years ago


I recently closed a short sale and it took SEVEN MONTHS to close. I represented the Buyer's and they were first time home Buyers with an FHA loan. When doing a shsort sale you have to be on top of every phase.

Some of the problems that I have encountered in doing short sales and REO:

1. One of the biggest problems that I find with short sales is that the listing agents list the property with a low asking price before the price is approved by the lenders.

2. Some of the listing agents attitudes are less to be desired. In short sales, they treat the Seller's like numbers and feel that they will not be future clients so they just don't care.

3. Some of the agents that handle REO's are usually out of area agents hired by the lenders. They are not familiar with the area, live far away from the property, place a lock box on the front door and don't want to be bothered with phone calls. They do as little as they can possibly do.

There are so many agents that say they are short sale or REO experts, but the bottom line is they are not. As I stated above SOME NOT ALL AGENTS act unprofessional.

Posted by Marguerite Wherry (Associate Broker / Teles Properties, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

I think the sellers just don't care about keeping or leaving the property in showable condition which somehow gravitates to the agent who just lays down & gets stupid & lazy!  Perpetual nothing without a lockbox.  I know some of these fly-by night companies that somehow get these listings can't afford the lock boxes! 

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) almost 11 years ago

I advise buyer's if you want to be in a home in the next 60 days, you do not want to look at any short sale properties.  You have to have patience and it could take up to 6 month to close. 

Taking buyer's to see short sales is a good way to lose a buyer to another Realtor.  Tell your buyer's up front about the frustrating process.

Posted by Tony Anderson, Realtor - Serving Habersham Banks, White & Hall Co (Century 21 Community Realty) almost 11 years ago


I agree 100% - it does not matter if an agent lists a 100k , 1m + or a short sale - they should all be handled the same. One never knows when the short sale seller will be ready to buy again. I have a hasrd time with agents who do not answer the phone too.Great post!!!


Posted by Noah Levy, Coldwell Banker Highland Park IL (Coldwell Banker) almost 11 years ago

We often find short sales listed with little information.  Our MLS does require at least one photo but not all comply.  Unless they are reported it does not get corrected.  Also in many instances the seller is only putting the listing in to buy time with the banks.  The banks generally require that a home be listed for 90 days before they will consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure or other terms to close a loan.

Posted by Jackie Cross (Real Living All Florida Realty) almost 11 years ago

I think often in "short sales" the Sellers are so frustrated that they can barely function, let alone keep their property in marketable condition.  Some agents accept the "short sale" with little hope of ever selling it and therefore put little effort into the marketing.  It's not a good business practice for all involved!

Posted by Kathy Opatka, Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches (RE/MAX CROSSROADS) almost 11 years ago

The scenario you described above - I agree is totally frustrating and makes you think twice before showing short sales. Unfortunately, it happens.

In Greater Danbury, short sales are only about 10% of the market so buyer's agents in most cases have a choice NOT to show short sales. If I don't do my job as a listing agent by preparing the property for sale (as much as possible within the context of financial constraints), pricing appropriately, providing information and disclosures, getting the seller prepared to submit the package, letting the buyer's agent know what to expect so they can manage their buyer's expectations, following up with the bank, the response from the market will be deafening. 

Posted by Dana Voelzke, Loan Officer/ First time home buyer specialist (loanDepot (203) 733-9408) almost 11 years ago

Hi Pat - Seems to me that a listing is a listing is a listing.  And since short sales are difficult and keeping the buyer with the deal during the lenghty approval process can be a problem, I work at least as hard, and usually harder, to market them. 

Great photos, open houses, frequent checks on the property, sweeping out leaves and stuff tracked in by lookers if it is vacant, and maybe even a bit of staging if vacant are just as important for all listings.  Sloppiness is not an option in our profession.

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) almost 11 years ago

Pat, I agree with you completely. But I also see this behavior with regular, normal lisitngs. I never understand it. Makes me crazy.

Posted by Greg Renfrow (Marx-Bensdorf, REALTORS) almost 11 years ago

I treat my short sales the same as all my other listings-with full service.  I do turn some down, as well if I think the seller will not be cooperative enough. In fact, they need full service more then the normal listing.  If we do not do that, it is aviolation of our duty to our clients.

Posted by Jirius Isaac, Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA (Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage) almost 11 years ago

I'm all for imposing standards on lisitng agents of REO and Short Sale properties.  Whether it's the LMC certification or another nationally recognized designation, it should represent to the public that the agent holding this designation has the necessary "competence" to perform his or her duties vis a vis an interested third party and the actual client.

Anyone with me on this one?

Posted by Martin Kalisker, Professional Standards & Legal Assistant (Greater Boston Association of REALTORS) almost 11 years ago

Short sales are often treated as second class listings. They require more work than a regular listing. Don't take short sales if you are not ready for the extra effort and uncertainty that is involved.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) almost 11 years ago

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!   Is my comment.  These sellers are at wits end.  What should we be doing?  Just as you the very least.... We are supposed to be helping and your blog post is to the point, which I like VERY MUCH!

Good job, Patricia!

Posted by Doug Patterson, CRS, ABR, Broker-In-Charge (Park Place Real Estate, Broker-In-Charge) almost 11 years ago

I let buyers know if they have an interest in a short sale, I'll certainly help them pursue that. But, you better be okay with waiting for awhile. Plus, you might wait for awhile, and still not get the home. A short sale is not for someone with a deadline, and if you're dealing with a less than stellar listing agent, it can be a real pain.

Posted by Joseph Keech (Blue Atlantic Properties) almost 11 years ago


Your post is dead-on and the number of responses reflects the frustration in the industry with the unprofessionalism we are seeing in our industry.  Banding together like this and holding them accountable is the first step towards change!

Posted by Vic Steele, Broker/Consultant (Vic Steele, Broker CA BRE 01349863) almost 11 years ago

These are some of the most difficult transactions today, and I can not believe why agents provide less than standard service. I see this all the time and wonder what these sellers are thinking. Are they thinking "Gosh, we're lucky anyone would want to work with us?" How horrible.


Posted by Christianne O'Malley, Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno! (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) almost 11 years ago

I am one of those agents that you talk about. Every short sale is a story. Every story has a reason for the things you see. The basic law of short sales is if you can't get a hold of the listing agent, then it's because they don't need your offer. ;)

I also disagree that you should treat a short sale listing as a regular listing. Short sales are a different animal and the human factor plays a great part in the game than a retail listing. The one thing my clients like is that I don't put them through the stress and embarrassment of selling a home, especially if it is a home they don't want to sell.

Also, the irony of this statement is priceless:

"And, while some of the listing agents do understand the mechanics of the process, many are totally clueless. It's not unusual to see short sales that have been listed prior to any contract with the lender or any paperwork started to get the short sale approved."



Posted by Satar Naghshineh (Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp.) almost 11 years ago

Wow, Pat.  I think you've hit a nerve.  The response to your post has been incredibly educational.  Thanks for raising the subject, and thanks to all who have taken time to respond AND share their knowledge. 

Posted by Marcie Sandalow, Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate (Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 ) almost 11 years ago

Great Post, Major ranting going on...good job!!  I am a short sale agent in Destin, FL.  Short sales really dominate our market and I have not seen many problems like this in Destin.  Our short sales are normally occupied and in great shape.  I also have been able to speak with agents and even receive follow up without asking.  It sounds like the agents mentioned in your blog need to get it together or some one might steal their cheese.

Posted by Clayton Bonjean, Broker | Owner | MBA (Mainsail Realty Company) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for the "rant" post. I am a CDPE lisensed in NW Ohio and Utah, and all our listings have the newest lockbox on them Senty lock, and/or Supra. It is our duty to ask the homeowner to have the home clean, because " Time is of the Essence" If a seller can't afford to maintain the property, it is noted in the rmks as such. If your going to list any sellers home in these challenging times, please make comments or request a call to explain the situation. This is the ethical and professional thing to do. 

Posted by Cindy Keil, CEO Cindy Keil Coaching (Cindy Keil Coaching) almost 11 years ago

There is not this much dancing on an old Fred Astaire movie. I can't believe the amount of singing in the Rain. There is no shame. This is why the COE is a waste of paper and as for designations - well, for a few shekels you can add some initials at the end of your name. Big DEAL! They don't prove anything. I have probably sat in more seminars and workshop than the total hours required to earn the initials. And, since each short sale is different - how could you be an expert?

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) almost 11 years ago

Very true.  It is a sad state of affairs.  As an investor, I speak with a lot of Realtors when I want to list a property for sale.  Most of them suggest a short sale without knowing what my mortgage is or the market value of the property.  One time a Realtor suggested a short sale before I even gave the property address.

Posted by Aaron Silverman, Improving Real Estate Experience through Education (, Bluewater Property Management, LLC and Lowcountry Turnkey Properties, LLC) almost 11 years ago

Agents who do an inferior marketing are doing their sellers a disservice.

Posted by Mike Henderson, HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848 (Your complete source for buying HUD homes) almost 11 years ago

I agree. I think many buyers are at a disadvantage because their Realtors are afraid of short sales too. It's a shame because they're really not that bad if you're patient and organized... and they're not going away anytime soon.

Posted by Stacy Grove, CRS, G.R.I., e-PRO (Cressy & Everett Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Wow!  Many of your comments could have been posts of their own!  As an agent who works primarily with buyers, I have to say that many of them are not willing to put up with the delays and uncertainty of offering on a short sale.  And I am reluctant to help them buy one if I see that the agent on the other side of the transaction is unfamiliar with the process.

And it seems that most of us here on Active Rain try our best to do a good job for short sale sellers.

It also occured to me that some don't have photos because the places are out of control messes! 

Here in DC, we are probably seeing fewer than in many parts of the country.  And I must say that we can all learn a lot by reading many of the Florida, Nevada and Arizona bloggers - something we will need to do as they become a larger part of our local inventory.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

We have a pretty strong short sale market here.  If the agent doesn't post interior pictures, I assume that the house is trashed and not worthy of interior shots.  We use Supra lock boxes but sometimes there are agents who want to show property that are from another area that doesn't utilize those boxes. Therefore, they don't have the necessary keypad to activate the box to open.  In cases where I may have a listing where I anticipate agents from out of the area, I will use a combo lockbox so that all agents have access to the property. 

Posted by Catherine Marrone, West Newbury MA real estate, Essex County (Integrity Residential Brokerage LLC) almost 11 years ago

It must be Bag other Real Estate agents day with some of these featured posts..

"There are comments instucting agents not to call the lister, but to email any questions or comments.  So they clearly are not trying to sell the short sale listing to their colleagues who might have buyers."

POSSIBLE CAUSE -- They are on the phone with lenders / loss negotiators and can't switch over or be available to answer questions at all hours of the day that could easily be answered via e-mail or text. Your accusation without understanding is a reckless statement.

Forget about staging.  Short sales, even empty ones, are often filled with trash and debris and months old funky kitty litter.

Stereotypical Statement -- "Often Filled with trash and debris and months of funky kitty litter?"... I don't think so. Regardless...

There also seems to be a tone to your message that the listing agents are not only responsible for all of the extra work needed on these... but also to clean houses and possibly stage them?




Posted by Paul Francis, Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes (Francis Group Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Whew!  Paul!  Take a breath!

In Las Vegas, you all might have your short sale acts together.  Here in Washington, DC, where I showed properties that inspired this post, many of the agents who list them do not.  We have seen far fewer than in other parts of the country, or even than other parts of our metropolitan area.

And the agents who don't take phone calls more often than not ignor text messages and emails.  I think it's pretty rude to assume anyone trying to call you will do so any hour of the day or night, and will be asking stupid questions.

And if, as you write, listings in your part of the world are not filled with trash and debris, I can only assume that the hard working listing agent managed to convince the sellers of the importance of cleaning house. 

While many of the banks are ruining their reputations with the way they are responding to short sales, I think Realtors need to treat each other with professionalism and respect, and we need to treat our clients with professionalism and respect as well.


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Whew!  Paul!  Take a breath!

In Las Vegas, you all might have your short sale acts together.  Here in Washington, DC, where I showed properties that inspired this post, many of the agents who list them do not.  We have seen far fewer than in other parts of the country, or even than other parts of our metropolitan area.

And the agents who don't take phone calls more often than not ignor text messages and emails.  I think it's pretty rude to assume anyone trying to call you will do so any hour of the day or night, and will be asking stupid questions. 

And if, as you write, listings in your part of the world are not filled with trash and debris, I can only assume that the hard working listing agent managed to convince the sellers of the importance of cleaning house. 

While many of the banks are ruining their reputations with the way they are responding to short sales, I think Realtors need to treat each other with professionalism and respect, and we need to treat our clients with professionalism and respect as well.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Paul, in defense of Patricia, I don't think it's intentional. Most agents see a short sale as a regular retail listing and are unaware of how the process really works.

Every complaint she made, I have done. Each one has their own reason. I can fire off a lot of reasons for every complaint.

"I think Realtors need to treat each other with professionalism and respect,"

Trust me, I try, but I lose my patience for the ignorant. My take is if you are going to practice real estate, then you better learn all aspects of real estate. You should know how short sales, REOs, lease purchase options, purchase options, wrap around mortgages, seller financing, 1031 exchange, probate, etc. works.

"and we need to treat our clients with professionalism and respect as well."

Trust me, we are. However, you don't see it that way because you still see the listing as a retail listing where the owner has equity and an exit strategy in place AND wants to sell as fast as possible.


Posted by Satar Naghshineh (Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp.) almost 11 years ago

Is it just me, or are most ActiveRain posts and comments simply agents complaining about other agents.  Is there a doctor blog out there where doctors go on and on all day about how they can't stand how "Surgeon So & So" is doing his double bypass surgeries? 

Obviously in our profession (like any profession) there will be those who don't perform as well as others, but do we have to hear about it all the time?  It seems like most of the featured posts are just complaining and whining.  I'm fairly new to this service, but I was expecting some more positive and uplifting content, not a bunch of belly aching.

Posted by Matt Robinson, (Professional Investors Guild) almost 11 years ago

Treat a short sale client with the respect and productivity from you that it deserves or don't take it. So many short sales are failing because of the agent. One day somebody is going to get sued big time over being so lazy and the owner blames him/her for all the problems in not selling the home. When he/she goes to show proof of all the work done to market and sell the home, there won't be any. ouch!

Posted by Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux, Where Buying & Selling Works (Keller Williams Suburban Realty) almost 11 years ago

i agree with Bryant #3, a short sale listing is a listing and a Realtor should treat it like that...these agents that do less than fully marketing the listing, how do they get these listings when they do a half-ass job

Posted by Dana Devine (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 11 years ago

At times short sales get treated like red headed step children. Listing agents don't market the properties properly and buyer agents don't want to fool with them because of the time frame it takes to close them. The seller (who is the one that is in a jam) is the one that gets the short end of the stick.

Posted by Carey Scott (Prestige Property Brokers) almost 11 years ago

Point well made Patricia. My favorite is when the agent points out in comments to email them for the lockbox combo, but please do not call them. And yet when you email them they never respond forcing you to call them. Then they give you attitude for calling them. Makes no sense.

Posted by Matthew Bartlett (Hill Top Real Estate/BRE Lic. #01353034) almost 11 years ago