In markets where home places have fallen drastically, short sales are among the few ways for homeowners to get out of their homes, short of foreclosure. In a short sale, however, the lender has to agree to accept payment that is less than for the entire loan amount. Its not something most banks are eager to do.
San Diego real estate agent Bob Hamzey has encountered his share of short sale horror stories as he has tried to sell homes whose values seemingly dropped by the day. He cheered when the Obama Administration rolled out its Foreclosures Alternative Program, which is designed to streamline the short sale process for distressed homeowners by setting service standards for banks and mortgage companies.
While the program promises to make life easier for homeowners and the realtors helping them, Hamzey claims that big banks have already found ways to circumvent the rules for their own gain and are gaming the system.
"The banks have been transferring their equity lines of credit in the middle of the short sale process to affiliate companies," said Hamzey. "These affiliates are not under the auspices of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or obliged to follow the rules set up under the president's new program. In essence, they are almost free to be as uncooperative as they please."
Hamzey claims that by not signing off on the short sale package, the affiliate companies may force the first mortgage to foreclose. He maintains that large banks would prefer a foreclosure to a short sale, even though they may end up losing money in either case.
"In front of the camera, bank executives smile and explain how they are cooperating with the government and working with distressed homeowners," said Hamzey. "In the back rooms, they transfer their assets to affiliate companies that practically operate free of government regulations.
Hamzey says he is on a mission to spread the word about big bank abuse of the FAP program and is asking his fellow agents to send him their personal stories of getting caught up in short sale abuse.
Hamzey said he intends to send these stories to federal regulators in an effort to encourage the Obama administration to develop a system that is fair and responsible for the people they were designed to help.