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Category Archive: ‘Short Sales’

Short Sale Fraud is Illegal

Hat tip to Booty Juice!  From

timbTimothy William Barnes, 37, pleaded guilty Monday to committing bank fraud. Barnes, a San Francisco resident, owned and operated Apex Properties Real Estate Brokerage in San Luis Obispo. Barnes is accused of orchestrating a property-flipping scheme in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and other Central Coast cities that netted him more than $500,000 in profits between January 2010 and September 2012.

Barnes understated the value of homes in documents he submitted to banks that he was asking to approve short sales. He then sold the houses at higher prices. Often Barnes concealed higher offers he had already received and simultaneously negotiated the short sale and resale of the houses.

Short sales can occur when the value of a property drops below the amount of money owed on the mortgage. In that instance, a bank can agree to a short sale, in which it accepts less than the total owed on the loan.

The FBI and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General investigated the Barnes’s property-flipping scheme. FBI agents raided his downtown San Luis Obispo office in September 2012.

Barnes is scheduled for sentencing on June 16. He faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison.

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Fraud, Jim's Take on the Market, Scams, Short Sales, Short Selling | 6 comments

NSDCC Distressed Market – 2014

ben's smoking gunAfter seeing Bernanke holding the smoking gun on Monday (where he said that he told banks to not disrupt the economy with their REOs), did you give up hope getting a deal on a distressed sale?

If not, this might push you closer to believing.

Here is the mix of NSDCC detached listings this year:

REOs: 1

Short-sales: 10

Non-distressed: 825

REO listing agents, flippers, and short-sale scammers have to be scrambling.  Keep your head down!

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Foreclosures/REOs, REO Inventory, Shadow Inventory, Short Sales, Short Selling | 0 comments

2014 Short Sales in San Diego

Can we make the case that short sales are the precursor to foreclosures?

shortsales5Those underwater probably won’t sell unless pressure is being applied through the foreclsoure process.  The ‘waterfall’ of banker events starts with a loan-mod attempt, and if that doesn’t work, then a try at short selling before getting foreclosed.

Here are the counts of SD County short-sale listings that have hit the MLS between Jan 1-9 (there will be a few added to this year’s number):

2011: 395

2012: 337

2013: 148

2014: 38

It doesn’t look like the foreclosure machine is back in business yet. Many thought that the dropoff was due to banks having to re-tool due to the newly passed CA Homeowners Bill of Rights causing the 148 last year.

The decline has been steady on the graph below. It’s hard to believe that the defaulters just started making their payments all of a sudden:

San Diego County Trustee-Sale Results

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Short Sales, Short Selling | 0 comments

Short-Sale Deals?

searchingforshortsalesBuyers hoping for a deal will have to look high and low these days – because sellers are typically the most optimistic early in the selling season.

Maybe a bank-owned REO?  Don’t get your hopes up, there have only been seven REOs listed in San Diego’s North County coastal region over the last six months.

How about a short-sale?  There have been 38 listed in the same period, but with the lighter load these days, the servicers have been more diligent about selling for full value.

But I heard this story today which could help – maybe?

NationStar Mortgage requires short-sellers to first submit their home to for sale – BEFORE the house gets inputted onto the MLS. gets a few days to sell the house to the highest bidder, based on a sales price that they determine after sending out an ‘inspector’ or two.  Not sure if they are assessing the condition and/or value, but we know how operates, and their system has one troubling flaw:

Their opening bids are ridiculously low to attract the maximum eyeballs - and once you put an ultra-low price on a house, it is hard to recover.

Here is an example:

This has been on the MLS since September, listed for $1,300,000 (apparently the agent didn’t get the memo about the new process):

But starting today and going until January 5th, you can bid on-line to purchase the property, with the opening bid starting at $500,000.  They also advertise it as being a ‘Bank-approved short-sale’:

We’ll check back to see if they are having any luck – I have seen this house and we couldn’t get out of it fast enough. It is a wreck of a floor plan that has divided the house into two units inside.

The success of this program will be up to the lenders. Because positions the offering to be a screaming deal, the lenders will have to be generous about their reserve prices.

But if they are going to do that, why not just foreclose and get paid immediately, and have the trustee-sale buyer worry about gettting the former owners out of the house?

The original mortgage on this house was $1.45 million, and it looks like no payments have been made since 2010. The balance owed is over $1,800,000.  Do you think the reserve price will be under a million?

Realtors should breathe a little easier too about’s attempts to get into residential resales.  I doubt many regular home sellers will agree to an opening bid that less than half of their perceived value.

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Auctions, Jim's Take on the Market, Short Sales, Short Selling | 7 comments

Defaulters Get Another Chance

Housing foreclosure authorities and have created a new website to help people re-enter the housing market after having been through a previous foreclosure. The website is called and helps those most affected by the housing crisis take charge of their financial future and own their own home again.

Read More

Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Mortgage Qualifying, Short Sales, Short Selling, Strategic Defaults | 2 comments

Bought And Paid For

realtorstuffingflyerboxThe California Association of Realtors’ political action committee  gave $500,000 to the state Democratic Party the day before the Democrat-dominated Franchise Tax Board effectively resolved a months-long legislative fight over the state’s tax treatment of short sales.

Tuesday’s donation, reported Wednesday evening, matches the $500,000 the Realtors gave state Democrats in May. The group also gave the party $168,000 earlier in the year and more than $1 million in 2012.

The 2013 contributions, by far the largest to the party in the current election cycle, will help Democratic attempts to keep their two-thirds legislative supermajorities in 2014.

Realtors spokeswoman Lotus Lou denied any connection between the two events. Wednesday’s legal opinion from the Franchise Tax Board stemmed from a September clarification on the issue by the IRS, she said.

“The two did not have any relation to each other,” Lou said.

In her legal opinion, Franchise Tax Board chief counsel Jozel Brunett cited the clarification by the IRS that forgiven debt after a home is sold for less than the amount owed on it should not be treated as taxable income.

“This is welcome news for Californians who have had to short sell their homes this year,” Board of Equalization member George Runner said in a statement. “We learned last month they wouldn’t face a federal tax penalty. We now know they won’t face a state tax hit either.”

Read More

Posted by on Dec 6, 2013 in Local Government, Short Sales, Short Selling | 10 comments

Debt-Tax Relief Forever

Dec. 4 – The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) announced today it received a letter from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), obtained by Board of Equalization (BOE) member George Runner, clarifying that California families who have lost their home in a short sale are not subject to state income tax liability on debt forgiveness “phantom income” they never received in a short sale.

bboxer1Last month, in a letter to California Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognized that the debt written off in a short sale does not constitute recourse debt under California law, and thus does not create so-called “cancellation of debt” income to the underwater home seller for federal income tax purposes.

Following the IRS’s clarification, C.A.R. sought a similar ruling by the California FTB.  Now with the FTB’s clarification, underwater home sellers also are assured that they are not subject to state income tax liability, rescuing tens of thousands of distressed home sellers from California tax liability for debt written off by lenders in short sales.

“We are pleased with the recent clarifications issued by the IRS and the California Franchise Tax Board, which protect distressed homeowners from debt relief income tax associated with a short sale in California,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown.  “We would like to thank Sen. Boxer and BOE member Runner for their leadership in obtaining this guidance from the IRS and FTB.”

“Distressed California homeowners can now avoid foreclosure or bankruptcy and can opt for a short sale instead, without incurring federal and state tax liability, even after the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 expires at the end of this year.”

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Short Sales, Short Selling | 5 comments

Short Sales Less Favorable

From NMD:

RealtyTrac reports that the nature of distressed property sales is evolving.  In its most recent report on market and distressed sales, the company noted that changing economics are increasing the reliance on more traditional third party purchases at foreclosure auctions rather than the lender/borrower negotiated sale at less than the outstanding loan balance.

“After a surge in short sales in late 2011 and early 2012, the favored disposition method for distressed properties is shifting back toward the more traditional foreclosure auction sales and bank-owned sales,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“The combination of rapidly rising home prices – along with strong demand from institutional investors and other cash buyers able to buy at the public foreclosure auction or an as-is REO home – means short sales are becoming less favorable for lenders.”

reos and shortsales

Read entire article here:

Posted by on Nov 29, 2013 in Shadow Inventory, Short Sales, Short Selling | 3 comments

IRS Gives Debt-Tax Relief

From the

Troubled homeowners who get a break from their mortgage lenders could face a hefty tax bill next year if a key provision expires at the end of the year, though state laws could determine which borrowers will have to write a check to Uncle Sam.

bboxerHomeowners who live in states where mortgages are non-recourse—that is, where they aren’t personally liable for the unpaid balance—may avoid the potential tax hit even if Congress doesn’t act, according to a letter sent by the Internal Revenue Service released by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) on Friday.

In the letter to Sen. Boxer, the IRS clarified that certain non-recourse debt forgiven by lenders wouldn’t typically be considered taxable income by the IRS. This means that for most California borrowers, the expiration of the tax provision may not have a meaningful effect.

“California homeowners have struggled through years of economic hardships during the Great Recession,” said Ms. Boxer in a statement Friday. “I am relieved that these families will not face a burdensome tax penalty just as they are trying to rebuild their lives with a short sale.”

In the letter, the IRS wrote that “if a property owner cannot be held personally liable for the difference between the loan balance and the sales price, we would consider the obligation a non-recourse obligation.” As a result, the owner would not have to count that forgiven debt as income.

Other states with laws that prevent lenders from seeking so-called “deficiency judgments” to recoup defaulted debts from borrowers would likely be in the same camp as California, the letter said.

Short sales have fallen sharply as a share of overall sales over the past year as the housing market has rebounded and fewer homeowners have found themselves underwater. In California, short sales accounted for around 12.6% of homes that were resold last month, down from 26.7% one year earlier, according to research firm DataQuick.

Read full article here:

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Foreclosures/REOs, Short Sales, Short Selling | 1 comment

Short-Sale Bribes

Hat tip to bode for sending this in from the

A Bank of America Corp. employee assigned to deal with delinquent mortgages has been arrested on federal charges of accepting more than $1 million in bribes to allow homes to be sold far below their market value.

Kevin Lauricella worked at a BofA facility in Simi Valley where he focused on short sales, said Ariel Neuman, an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. Short sales are transactions that allow borrowers in default to satisfy their mortgage debts by selling the property for less than they owe.

A 28-count grand jury indictment, unsealed Tuesday, listed 18 properties allegedly sold in late 2010 and early 2011 at prices below those the bank would have approved. Lauricella is accused of enabling the sales by improperly approving short sales and falsifying bank records.

Most of the homes were in the San Fernando Valley, but others were in Corona, Coto de Caza, Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

“The buyers would either resell the homes at the actual property values or in some cases would refinance the property at the actual value, thereby extracting profits on the deals,” Newman said.

Lauricella, 28, of Thousand Oaks, entered a not guilty plea Tuesday before a federal magistrate and was released on a $100,000 property bond, said his attorney, Ronald D. Hedding. Hedding said he had not yet had time to study the evidence against Lauricella and could not comment.

Documents filed with the indictment indicated the government seized Lauricella’s Chevrolet Suburban on grounds it had been purchased with criminal proceeds and intended to try to take away his home.,0,2008694.story

Posted by on Oct 16, 2013 in Fraud, Short Sales, Short Selling | 5 comments