Beth L Peerce
Dear REALTORS®, Over the past few months, I’ve been sharing with you the many things that C.A.R. has been doing to address your concerns related to short sale transactions. We recently conducted a survey to obtain information about members’ experiences working with lenders in distressed transactions. The results of the Short Sale Lender Satisfaction Survey were released just today, and I’d like to reveal some of the findings to you. (See the full results.)
  • The survey found that fewer than three in five short sales close in California, which illustrates the complexity and difficulty of navigating lenders’ and servicers’ short sale procedures.
  • The most frequent problems REALTORS® cited in working with lenders and servicers during the short sale process include unresponsiveness, onerous procedures, and long processing delays – problems that many of you probably have experienced firsthand.
Overall, the survey results show that the short sales system is clearly flawed and must be standardized and streamlined to reduce the inventory of foreclosures. I want you to know that C.A.R. has been working on many fronts to make this happen. It has appointed two distinct task forces just to help address this issue. In addition to conducting the Short Sale Lender Satisfaction Survey, another of the action items the task forces have undertaken is writing an open letter to consumers focusing the spotlight on short sales. The open letter will appear in a full-page advertisement that will be published this Thursday, March 10, in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune, Bakersfield Californian, and Fresno Bee, calling on lenders and industry regulators to streamline and improve short sale procedures. The letter is an effort to bring attention to the broken and ineffective short sale process and galvanize industry leaders to help resolve the issue. I hope you can pick up a copy of one of those newspapers that day and read the open letter. If not, we’ll be sure to post it on that morning. While we’re on the subject of short sales, under new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requirements, REALTORS® who negotiate short sales with lenders and those who promote their services as a way to help consumers avoid foreclosure must generally comply with new disclosure and other requirements under the federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) rules, according to NAR. These new rules, however, do not apply to real estate agents who limit their short sale services to providing customary assistance to consumers in selling or buying short sales, such as listing homes for sale, showing homes, and finding desirable homes for consumers, and who do not negotiate with lenders and do not promote their services as a way to help consumers avoid foreclosure. C.A.R. is in the process of preparing standard forms for REALTORS® to use to comply with MARS. For more details on MARS, visit here. Last month, the White House announced plans to phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a move we believe would raise borrowing costs for home buyers and severely restrict a safe and affordable flow of financing. The proposal also calls for allowing the maximum loan limit to drop back to $625,500 in high cost areas, which would hamper California’s housing recovery. California dominates the jumbo loan market and cannot afford a reduced loan limit. Any reduction to the conforming loan limit will prevent low- and moderate-income home buyers in high-cost areas from accessing low-cost, low-rate mortgages. On the contrary, if you are trying to sell your house fast and expect to receive the full cost at once, consider working with local businesses like Haan Homes. According to the expert commentary from the folks at, the future of these GSEs is unclear at this time, they anticipate that, they will continue to dominate the discussion and headlines pertaining to the future of the mortgage industry. C.A.R. will work with NAR to ensure that the REALTORS®’ voice continues to be heard as Congress holds hearings and debates and begins to formulate legislation that would steer the future of the U.S. housing finance market. Read C.A.R.’s response to the White House’s proposal. Unfortunately, today’s distressed housing market has given rise to pervasive real estate fraud. To draw attention to the growing problem and help members avoid being scammed, C.A.R. gathered fraud specialists from the real estate, banking, and legal communities for a roundtable discussion to share how to spot, combat, and prevent real estate fraud. You can read the discussion in “Roundtable: Crime & Real Estate” in the March/April issue of California Real Estate magazine. The magazine also takes a closer look at potential warning signs that you may be being duped by fraudsters in “If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…” and agents’ fraud horror stories in “You’ve been Scammed!” Check your mailbox for this issue next week. Sincerely, Beth L. Peerce 2011 President CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®