Short sales and foreclosures on St. George Island
Something old that's new again is the idea of a "short sale" in real estate. When owners are not able to hold on to property they bought at a high point in the cyclical market that characterizes real estate, they sometimes have to list their property for sale for less than what they owe the bank holding the mortgage. This is called a "short sale" and there can be ramifications for several parts of the transaction.
First, although the seller still owns the property, and may transact with you to sell his or her property at a particular price, the bank must approve the offer, and must have negotiated the shortfall with the seller/loan holder. This means that in order to sell you the property, the seller has to settle what is owed to the bank with what is often called the "loss mitigation office" of the bank. The "shortfall" is the difference between what is owed and what will be realized in the sale of the property. Settlement agreements range from the bank forgiving the shortfall to attaching the shortfall to another property the seller owns to the seller coming up with cash for the shortfall, and everything in between.
This negotiation does not involve you as the buyer, but it can severely delay the ability to a) get a definitive response to your offer, and b) get to a successful and timely closing. Your escrow will be tied up during this period, and you may have to agree to extensions of the deadlines in the sales contract you originally signed with the buyer.
My best advice - work with a good realtor who knows their way around short sales. And ask who will be negotiating with the loss mitigation department of the bank, and be sure you are comfortable with the answer you get.
On the short sale I just completed a few months ago, I had a dream of a seller, and we had a dream of a buyer with a great realtor working on that side, and it was still a very difficult transaction to bring to completion.
Foreclosures are properties whose owners have already lost them to the bank, and so the bank is the seller, and will be dealing with you through their own agent. Particularly with large banks, we are finding that foreclosure sales can bog down in sets of regulations and procedures that threaten the successful and timely closing of the transaction as well. Again, talk with your agent about what to expect.
So, definitely check out all deals if you are in the market, including foreclosures and short sales, but be sure you talk to your realtor up front about what to expect if you decide to go the route of a short sale or foreclosure. And, be ready with lots of patience and perseverence - if you really want this property, and are getting a great deal on it, be prepared to stick with it through any twists and turns! Short sales and foreclosures are not for the faint of heart.
For buyers, there are nice deals in all segments of this real estate market - choose wisely, and plan to spend some time and energy getting the deal you want.
Sea turtle update for St. George Island: one new nest this morning, and two ghost crab holes in the nest that I'm expecting any day to have what we call an "emergence." I think the babies are in there, already hatched out, just waiting for the perfect conditions to leave that nest and make their way to the water. They'll come boiling out in a group, using the cover of night and the safety of numbers to make a dash for the water. Crab activity is not uncommon just before an emergence - it's a natural part of the process, and ghost crabs play an incredibly important role in keeping our beaches healthy.
Hmm.... do you identify with the ghost crab or the baby turtle???