Short Sales: New Trends Making It From Short To Shock?

Despite of the numerous headlines proclaiming that short sales are improving greatly, convincing the unsuspecting reader that the time has arrived to write up an offer on one, this could not be further from the truth.

Now, more than ever one should avoid short sales. Even though the general perception is that the banks “are getting slightly easier to deal with”: offering programs and online platforms for short sale sellers and their agents, the transactions themselves are getting even tougher to close.

Although, it is clear that foreclosures are costly and expensive for banks, the fact that banks are hugely reluctant to participate in HAFA is a shocking reality. Here are a few common statements: banks are not in the business of buying or selling homes. When banks foreclose on a home, they become responsible for selling it. It’s difficult for banks to sell foreclosed homes, yet they still do everything possible to complicate short sale process and they continue to do everything possible to deny short sales, rather than approve it. Well, there might be a new good reasons for the banks now chose to opt for foreclosures, read on and you will be shocked.

Making Home Affordable. “Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program”: the statement behind HAFA, is powerful and clear, and the government put so much good will and effort behind it. Unfortunately, it remains just a “wishful thinking”! The banks now more than ever, proclaim one thing but do entirely different “behind the scenes”.

Here are a few new trends to watch:

BPO’s continue to come ABOVE current market value! Seriously, where is the logic in this?

Investors: Banks hide behind their “investors”: a very dangerous and fast-growing trend.

One of my short sales was denied yesterday because the “investor” wanted to net 25% more than the actual market value! What a preposterous request! The property was listed at current market value, supported by current and relevant comps, and surprisingly, by the bank’s own BPO.  The contract price was slightly higher than the listing price, respectively higher than current market, yet the “investor” wanted more! That same “investor” made a statement that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to accept a contract slightly above market. One cannot help it but wonder where were these “investors” when the banks were in a desperate need of financial help? The government not only stepped in and “bailed out” the banks, but continues to seek programs and solutions to restore the economic balance. It is intolerable that the banks do not reciprocate in playing their important part in the process, or at least honor their part of the deal.

Non-institutional liens: In many cases, short sale lenders are unwilling to use any money from the sale proceeds in order to help the short sale seller to pay off these non-institutional liens. You can talk with the lender until you are blue in the face, but there are certain investors and specific lien holders that will refuse to give in and allow any money towards non-institutional liens, such as: state tax liens, abstracts of judgment and HOA liens continue to be a huge hurdle to closing short sale transactions.

Incentives, offered to sellers: not honored. Many are the banks that advertised attractive incentives to those sellers willing to consider short-selling their home. It is now very clear that some of these banks used this as a desperate attempt to correct the negative publicity they had generated in the recent years. Good example, whereas the original lender was : Bank of America, the file was handled by “Servicer”, Green Tree- and of course they had “never heard” of any incentives offered to sellers…Out of 15 files I had for BOA, 13 were handled by servicers.

Real Estate Commissions: banks continue to request reductions on the real estate commissions and fees. Despite of government efforts to correct this, it is happening again and again. Realtors did not receive any breaks when their business was hit when real estate markets went down; they were not “bailed out” by the government! They took their losses and went day in and day out to do the best they could to help an entire industry in distress. They did not cause the difficult situation of the seller; neither did they cause the decline in the market values, although the banks quickly tried to include them in the category “to blame”. So why do the banks feel that the Realtors should not get paid especially in short sales when both, the seller’s and the buyer’s agents have to double their work to compensate for the in adequacies of the banks?

Foreclosure vs Short Sale: and, yes: banks openly state that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to a short-sale on a property, contradictory to the popular belief and general perception that “banks are not in the business to own real estate”! This is the latest trend to watch: banks are looking to expand their efforts in actually foreclosing and managing the properties as landlords.

Wonder, what comes next?

Stay tuned for more on Foreclosure and Short Sale news.

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodFlorida
http://www.facebook.com/MiamiFloridaEstates
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

South Florida’s High-End Properties In High Demand

South Florida High-end PropertiesThis excellent story by Miami Herald: The Rich Niche: South Florida’s High-End Properties In High Demand – Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com., offers good insights on what is really happening in our lovely South East Florida. Before I share it with you all, I would like to include the following “Points To Ponder”:

Where do the affluent buyers shift their attention to?

The scene: Luxury Real Estate, SE Florida- Sunny Isles, Miami Beach, Down Town Miami.

The players: Europe, South America, US, Israel, Russia.

The circumstances: Europe’s Political and economic tensions not only push up U.S. bond prices, but also boost the US real estate markets, as some of its most affluent residents start looking for stability and comfort elsewhere. Political instability in South America, has always been the driving force out for some of these countries’ investors. General disappointment and loss of confidence in the stock market was the determining factor for the local luxury buyer. Israel has a technologically advanced market economy and although the global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, the economy has recovered better than most advanced, comparably sized economies, thus producing a number of substantial investors. Russia: as the number of Russian billionaires almost doubled over the last year to 101, (reported by Forbes), our sunny coast plays host to some.

The results:Luxury homes in SE Florida are selling for nearly what they were at the peak, even if the market as a whole remains in the dumps. 

The article below is one of the many articles in the last 6 months or so, attesting to the fast recovery in SE Florida’s real estate. It offers truthful reports and statistical figures making two points: the luxury market in SE Florida not only remains the most resilient market, but continues to grow, and second, it creates an “after effect”, that influences positively many other segments of the local market, causing them to recover faster. With that said, why I wonder, so many people are still waiting for our local market to bottom out???

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/05/2785509_p3/the-rich-niche-south-floridas.html#storylink=cpy

For accurate real estate reports, services and helping you find your real estate deal, contact:

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Direct: 786.412.8510
RealtorKateSmith@facebook.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodFlorida
http://www.facebook.com/MiamiFloridaEstates
http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

 

Florida Real Estate Buzz: THE HEIGHT OF COOL

 

Luxury resort development and sky-scraping sports cars jazz up miami’s soaring real estate scene. It’s not just foreign investors fueling Miami’s comeback. As the local real estate market faces a renaissance and prices rise, heavyweight developers – Donald Trump in Doral and Gil Dezer in Sunny Isles Beach – are jumping back on the investing wagon to get a piece of the pie before there’s nothing left. Trump plans to work his magic (and millions) on a weathered Doral golf course and hotel and turn it into a luxury resort. Dezer is teaming up with sports car maker Porsche for a one-of-a-kind futuristic condo tower. In general, Luxury homes in SE Florida are selling for nearly what they were at the peak, even if the market in the other states and markets remains in the dumps.

And, the today’s headlines from Miami Association Of Realtors anounce: Miami condo prices jump 38% in the first quarter of 2012, inventory drops 33%.

The median sales price of a Miami-Dade County condominium rose by 38 percent in the first quarter, compared to the same period in 2011, according to a report from the Miami Association of Realtors. The median single-family home sales price rose to $174,799, a 14 percent increase compared to the first three months of 2011. “In the first quarter, we have seen further decline of housing inventory in Miami-Dade County, coupled with consistent and significant price appreciation,” said Martha Pomares, 2012 Chairman of the Board of the Miami Association of Realtors.

Record home sales, which were greatly boosted by foreign buyers and investors in Miami-Dade County, have further strengthened the local real estate market and economy.” The price increases came despite short sales and REOs continuing to account for a significant proportion of closed home sales.

Whereas the prices went up by 38%, the inventory in Miami fell by 33 percent in the same period.

Stay tuned for more real estate news.

Affluent French Make Plans To Relocate

PARIS – May 14, 2012 – France’s national election will mean a change of residence for many more French than simply outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy, a real estate firm says.

Winkworth, a real estate firm in South Kensington, Britain, said there has been a 50 percent jump in customer traffic from France since last weekend’s election, which analysts attribute to Socialist President-elect Francois Hollande’s plans to raise taxes on the wealthy, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

Hollande, who defeated the center-right Sarkozy last weekend, has said his tax policy would include raising the tax rate to 75 percent for those earning $1.2 million per year or more. He also expects to raise the tax rate to 45 percent for those earning $193,000 per year or more.

On the other side of the English Channel, British Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to cut the 50 percent tax rate for those earning $241,000 per year or more to 45 percent. This explains the sudden interest in relocating, said one banker.

Hollande has also said, flat out, “I don’t like the rich.”

One French financier remarked that the new French president has triggered “the third-biggest exodus from France – the first being the Revolution and the second when (Socialist President Francois) Mitterrand got into power.”

Copyright © United Press International 2012

Short Sales: New Trends Making It From Short To Shock?

Despite of the numerous headlines proclaiming that short sales are improving greatly, convincing the unsuspecting reader that the time has arrived to write up an offer on one, this could not be further from the truth.

Now, more than ever one should avoid short sales. Even though the general perception is that the banks “are getting slightly easier to deal with”: offering programs and online platforms for short sale sellers and their agents, the transactions themselves are getting even tougher to close.

Although, it is clear that foreclosures are costly and expensive for banks, the fact that banks are hugely reluctant to participate in HAFA is a shocking reality. Here are a few common statements: banks are not in the business of buying or selling homes. When banks foreclose on a home, they become responsible for selling it. It’s difficult for banks to sell foreclosed homes, yet they still do everything possible to complicate short sale process and they continue to do everything possible to deny short sales, rather than approve it. Well, there might be a new good reasons for the banks now chose to opt for foreclosures, read on and you will be shocked.

Making Home Affordable. “Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program”: the statement behind HAFA, is powerful and clear, and the government put so much good will and effort behind it. Unfortunately, it remains just a “wishful thinking”! The banks now more than ever, proclaim one thing but do entirely different “behind the scenes”.

Here are a few new trends to watch:

BPO’s continue to come ABOVE current market value! Seriously, where is the logic in this?

Investors: Banks hide behind their “investors”: a very dangerous and fast-growing trend.

One of my short sales was denied yesterday because the “investor” wanted to net 25% more than the actual market value! What a preposterous request! The property was listed at current market value, supported by current and relevant comps, and surprisingly, by the bank’s own BPO.  The contract price was slightly higher than the listing price, respectively higher than current market, yet the “investor” wanted more! That same “investor” made a statement that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to accept a contract slightly above market. One cannot help it but wonder where were these “investors” when the banks were in a desperate need of financial help? The government not only stepped in and “bailed out” the banks, but continues to seek programs and solutions to restore the economic balance. It is intolerable that the banks do not reciprocate in playing their important part in the process, or at least honor their part of the deal.

Non-institutional liens: In many cases, short sale lenders are unwilling to use any money from the sale proceeds in order to help the short sale seller to pay off these non-institutional liens. You can talk with the lender until you are blue in the face, but there are certain investors and specific lien holders that will refuse to give in and allow any money towards non-institutional liens, such as: state tax liens, abstracts of judgment and HOA liens continue to be a huge hurdle to closing short sale transactions.

Incentives, offered to sellers: not honored. Many are the banks that advertised attractive incentives to those sellers willing to consider short-selling their home. It is now very clear that some of these banks used this as a desperate attempt to correct the negative publicity they had generated in the recent years. Good example, whereas the original lender was : Bank of America, the file was handled by “Servicer”, Green Tree- and of course they had “never heard” of any incentives offered to sellers…Out of 15 files I had for BOA, 13 were handled by servicers.

Real Estate Commissions: banks continue to request reductions on the real estate commissions and fees. Despite of government efforts to correct this, it is happening again and again. Realtors did not receive any breaks when their business was hit when real estate markets went down; they were not “bailed out” by the government! They took their losses and went day in and day out to do the best they could to help an entire industry in distress. They did not cause the difficult situation of the seller; neither did they cause the decline in the market values, although the banks quickly tried to include them in the category “to blame”. So why do the banks feel that the Realtors should not get paid especially in short sales when both, the seller’s and the buyer’s agents have to double their work to compensate for the in adequacies of the banks? 

Foreclosure vs Short Sale: and, yes: banks openly state that they prefer to foreclose rather than agree to a short-sale on a property, contradictory to the popular belief and general perception that “banks are not in the business to own real estate”! This is the latest trend to watch: banks are looking to expand their efforts in actually foreclosing and managing the properties as landlords.

Wonder, what comes next?

Stay tuned for more on Foreclosure and Short Sale news.

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, CLHMS, CDPE, E-Pro, SFR, TRC
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.facebook.com/HollywoodFlorida
http://www.facebook.com/MiamiFloridaEstates
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

IRS- Taxes – Finally, All Filed!

And, here is what I have to say: “Everyone should be paying their taxes with a smile! I tried… but the IRS wanted cash!”

Fortunately, there is Real Estate! Owning real estate has always been the most beneficial investment.

Top Ten Tax Deductions for Landlords

Rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment. Here are the top ten tax deductions for owners of small residential rental property.
1. Interest; 2. Depreciation; 3. Repairs;  4. Local Travel; 5. Long Distance Travel; 6. Home Office; 7. Employees and Independent Contractors; 8. Casualty and Theft Losses; 9. Insurance; 10. Legal and Professional Services

Owning a Home — What’s Deductible?

Home ownership allows a lot of tax advantages not available to someone who merely pays rent. A homeowner can deduct points used to obtain a mortgage when buying a home, mortgage interest paid during the year, and property taxes. Your biggest deduction – Interest!

Here are some points to consider:
Defining “Home”:  your home can be a house, co-op, condominium, mobile home, trailer, or even a houseboat. For trailers and houseboats, one requirement is that the home must have sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities. Even a rental can be considered a second home, provided you live in it either fourteen days out of the year or at least ten percent of the number of days you rent it for, whichever is greater.
Interest as a Tax Deduction: At the end of each year, your lender should send you a form 1098. This is your deductible interest, provided you meet certain conditions.

Home Acquisition Debt (an IRS Term): An important IRS term is “home acquisition debt.” Any first or second mortgage used to buy, build, or improve your home is considered to be home acquisition debt:

Home Equity Debt (another IRS Term): The IRS has another term called “home equity debt.” Basically, this is any loan amount in excess of what was spent to purchase, build, or improve your home.  For the interest to be fully deductible, home equity debt cannot exceed $100,000 and the total mortgage debt on the home must not exceed its value. This can create a problem for those using 125% loan-to-value second mortgages to consolidate debt. That portion of the loan amount that exceeds the value of your home is not tax deductible (unless you used it for home improvement).

Deducting Points When Refinancing
: Points paid during refinancing must be deducted over the life of the loan. For a thirty-year loan, you divide the points by thirty and get to deduct that amount each year. Exception:  If you did a “cash out” refinance and used some of the funds to improve your primary residence, a portion of the points are deductible in the year you paid them. If you obtained a $200,000 loan and $50,000 was used for home improvement, then one-fourth of the points are deductible in the year you obtained the loan.

Deducting Property Taxes: Most homeowners pay property taxes to a local, state or foreign government. In most cases, property taxes are deductible.

Impound Accounts: Many mortgages have impound or escrow accounts. When calculating your property tax deduction, don’t deduct what you pay into that account. Only deduct what is paid from the account to the taxing authority.

Limits on Deductions: You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions.

Certified Public Accountants: Whenever you reach a point where you begin itemizing deductions, it is best to have your tax returns prepared by a Certified Public Accountant. Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations can quickly become…confusing.

As always, if you need a sound real estate advice, remember that “Real Estate Is A Serious Business; Get A Pro!”

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, CLHMS, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.facebook.com/MiamiFloridaEstates
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

BofA: Offering Rent Option As Foreclosure Alternative- Good Or Bad?

BofA to offer rentals as foreclosure alternative

NEW YORK – March 23, 2012 – Bank of America says it has begun a pilot program offering some of its mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners.

The “Mortgage to Lease” program, which was launched this week, will be available to fewer than 1,000 BofA customers selected by the bank in test markets in Arizona, Nevada and New York.

Participants will transfer their home’s title to the bank, which will then forgive the outstanding mortgage debt. In exchange, they will be able to lease their home for up to three years at or below the rental market rate. The rent will be less than the participants’ current mortgage payments and customers will not have to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance, the bank said.

“This pilot will help determine whether conversion from homeownership to rental is something our customers, the community and investors will support,” Ron Sturzenegger, legacy asset servicing executive of Bank of America, said in a statement.

Among requirements to qualify for the program, homeowners must have a BofA loan, be behind at least 60 days on payments and be “underwater,” owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The bank based in Charlotte, N.C., said it will at first own the homes, then sell them to investors. If the program is successful, it could be expanded to include real-estate investors who buy qualifying properties and keep the occupants on as tenants.

“If this evolves from a pilot into a more broadly based program, we also see potential benefits from helping to stabilize housing prices in the surrounding community and curtail neighborhood blight by keeping a portion of distressed properties off the market,” Sturzenegger said.

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac says foreclosure activity has picked up in some states, as banks deal with a backlog of homes with mortgages that had gone unpaid yet remained in limbo due to delays stemming from foreclosure-abuse claims.

Nevada has the nation’s highest foreclosure rate as of last month, with one in every 278 households in the state receiving a foreclosure-related filing, twice the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Arizona ranks third behind California, while New York has not been as hard hit, with one in every 4,604 households receiving a foreclosure-related filing.
AP LogoCopyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

As always, it pays to consult someone who knows. As I say, “Real Estate Is A Serious Business, Get A Pro”!

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, CLHMS, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist, Brosda & Bentley Realtors
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

President Obama Holds News Conference, Unveils Housing Plan

 
WASHINGTON – March 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama is aiming mortgage relief at members of the military as well as homeowners with government-insured loans, the administration’s latest efforts to address a persistent housing crisis. In his first full news conference of the year Tuesday, Obama was to announce plans to let borrowers with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration refinance at lower rates, saving the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year. Obama also was detailing an agreement with major lenders to compensate service members and veterans who were wrongfully foreclosed upon or denied lower interest rates.A senior administration official described Obama’s proposals to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss them ahead of the announcement.The efforts Obama is announcing do not require congressional approval and are limited in comparison with the vast expansion of government assistance to homeowners that he asked Congress to approve last month. That $5 billion to $10 billion plan would make it easier for more borrowers with burdensome mortgages to refinance their loans.

Obama is holding the news conference in the midst of a modestly improving economy. But international challenges as well as a stubbornly depressed housing market remain threats to the current recovery and to his presidency.

Obama has not held a full news conference since November.

Under the housing plans Obama was to announce Tuesday, FHA-insured borrowers would be able to refinance their loans at half the fee that the FHA currently charges. FHA borrowers who want to refinance now must pay a fee of 1.15 percent of their balance every year. Officials say those fees make refinancing unappealing to many borrowers. The new plan will reduce that charge to 0.55 percent.

With mortgage rates at about 4 percent, the administration estimates a typical FHA borrower with $175,000 still owed on a home could reduce monthly payments to $915 a month and save $100 a month more than the borrower would have under current FHA fees.

Though 2 million to 3 million borrowers would be eligible, the administration official would not speculate how many would actually seek to benefit from the program. The FHA provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. The loans typically go to homeowners who do not have enough equity to qualify for standard mortgages. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world.

For service members and veterans, Obama will announce that major lenders will review foreclosures to determine whether they were done properly. If wrongly foreclosed upon, service members and veterans would be paid their lost equity and also be entitled to an additional $116,785 in compensation. That was a figure reached through an agreement with major lenders by the federal government and 49 state attorneys general.

Under the agreement, the lenders also would compensate service members who lost value in their homes when they were forced to sell them due to a military reassignment.
AP Logo Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press, Jim Kuhnhenn. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Topics: Foreclosures
 
Real estate is a serious business, call a PRO!
 

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, LHM, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Homes and Distressed Properties Specialist, Brosda & Bentley Realtors
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.BrosdaandBentley.com
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

Buffet: Real Estate Investment- Better Than Stocks

Buffett: ‘I’d buy up a couple hundred thousand’ homes

WICHITA, Kan. – March 1, 2012 – Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” recently that he’d “buy up a couple hundred thousand” single-family homes if it was practical.Buffett said that’s because he believes purchasing a home with ultra-low mortgage rates and holding it for the long-term has become a better investment than stocks right now.

“Housing will come back, you can be sure of that,” Buffett wrote in his annual letter to shareholders recently.

Buffett forecasts an increase in household formations, as more people who moved in with their parents or family members during the recession look to move out and get their own home soon.

“People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while ‘doubling-up” may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure,” Buffett said.

Buffett said the recovery in the housing market could vary quite a bit among local housing markets, however. He did not provide a timeline of when he expected a full housing recovery, admitting that his prediction last year that a housing recovery will take shape within the year turned out to be “dead wrong.”

Source: “Housing Market Forecast Beyond 2012 From Warren Buffet,” International Business Times (Feb. 28, 2012) and “Warren Buffet on CNBC: I’d Buy Up ‘A Couple Hundred Thousand’ Single-Family Homes If I Could,” CNBC (Feb. 27, 2012)

© Copyright 2012 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Related Topics: Real estate investing

Lenders Embrace More Short Sales

NEW YORK – Feb. 20, 2012 – Lenders are allowing more short sales by financially strapped homeowners and a few people are even getting cash to complete the sale.

Short sales have been increasing for months, but the financial incentives – which Realtors say are random and infrequent – are a newer wrinkle.

Examples:

• JPMorgan Chase went national with short-sale incentive offers last year, paying up to $35,000 in some cases.

• Bank of America is testing incentives from $5,000 to $25,000 in Florida to see if they should be expanded to more states. The Florida program began last fall, spokesman Richard Simon says.

• Wells Fargo’s incentive offers range from less than $3,000 to $20,000, spokesman James Hines says.

Short sales, even with incentive payments to borrowers, can save lenders money compared with the expenses involved in completing foreclosures. In states such as Florida where foreclosures go through the courts, 50 percent of loans in foreclosure are more than two years past due, says a January report by mortgage tracker LPS Applied Analytics.

“It’s a lot cheaper to shell out $10,000 or $20,000 to someone than it is to go through a long foreclosure,” says Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker.

Banks are more willing to do short sales now than in the past, Gillespie says. Cash incentives appear to be “limited but increasing” in number, he adds.

“When a loan modification isn’t possible, a short sale may be a better and faster solution” than foreclosure, says JPMorgan Chase spokesman Thomas Kelly.

The lenders won’t say how often they extend such incentives.

“If you have two similar sellers, one might get it and another may not,” says Colleen Badagliacco of Altera Real Estate in San Jose. “It’s very random.”

Typically, short sale incentives are more common for loans in states where foreclosures take more time, Hines says.

In November, short sales accounted for more than 9 percent of single family home sales and were up 32 percent from the year before, according to CoreLogic.

Market researcher Dataquick also shows short sales increasing from January 2011 through last month throughout California and in Phoenix, Miami and Seattle.

The federal government-run foreclosure prevention program also offers short sale incentives, at least $3,000 for sellers, but far more short sales are being done outside the government program.

“The trend is up,” says Moody’s Investors Service analyst William Fricke.

© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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