Bank of America Short Sales and Bankruptcy: What Agents Need to Know

December 24, 2012


Bank of America can review a short sale offer while the loan is in an active bankruptcy. To complete a short sale and issue the approval letter, the bankruptcy documents must be filed and approved by the court. Any final agreement will require Bankruptcy court approval.

Homeowner(s) should consult with their Bankruptcy Counsel about how these programs could affect their mortgage and their bankruptcy case.

When a loan is in bankruptcy, there is an Automatic Stay, also known as a “hold,” of any collection activity placed on any and/or all debts to which the debtor is a party. Before the short sale specialist can discuss the short sale, Bank of America must have written authorization from the Homeowner(s’) Bankruptcy attorney on the law firm’s letterhead to discuss loss mitigation options with the borrower. This is in addition to the Bank of America Third-Party Authorization Form needed from the borrower to speak to the bankruptcy attorney and the listing agent.

If Homeowner(s) is/are currently in a bankruptcy proceeding, or have previously obtained a discharge of this debt under applicable bankruptcy law, all communication and notices are for information purposes only and is not an attempt to collect the debt, a demand for payment, or an attempt to impose personal liability for that debt. The Homeowner(s) is/are not obligated to discuss their home loan with Bank of America or enter into a short sale agreement or other loan-assistance program. Customers should consult with their bankruptcy attorney or other adviser about their legal rights and options.

For a short sale to be processed to completion for a loan in bankruptcy, Bank of America must receive one of the following releases issued by the bankruptcy court:

  • Granted Motion to Sell*
  • Granted Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay with noted short sale negotiation*
  • Dismissal
  • Discharge with Abandonment, Closing Order, Final Decree, Trustee No Asset Review

*A granted Motion differs from a requested Motion.

Note: If Homeowner(s) receive(s) a discharge under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding: discharge releases the Homeowner(s) from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. The Homeowner(s) is/are no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the Homeowner(s) from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the Homeowner(s), such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.

Although a Homeowner is not personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon specific property to secure payment of a debt) that has not been avoided (i.e., made unenforceable) in the bankruptcy case will remain after the bankruptcy case. Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien.

Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions:

What additional documents will be needed to complete this short sale?

Bank of America must have written authorization from the Homeowner’s bankruptcy attorney (on the law firm’s letterhead) to discuss loss mitigation options with the Homeowner. The customer and the attorney may determine that they do not want to give this authorization and the short sale can be negotiated through the attorney. This attorney authorization permitting Bank of America to speak to the Homeowner(s) is in addition to the Bank of America Third-Party Authorization Form needed from the Homeowner(s) to speak to the bankruptcy attorney and agent. Communication cannot occur with the real estate agent/Homeowner(s) until the bankruptcy attorney’s written authorization on the firm’s letterhead and the Bank of America Third-Party Authorization Form are received.

When will I receive the approval letter?

An approval letter cannot be issued until the releases, identified above from the Bankruptcy court has been received. Once the release is received, the file can be submitted for approval to the appropriate investor(s) and/or mortgage insurance company. The file will then follow the normal approval process to ensure it meets investor requirements.

Why can’t you approve a short sale file while waiting for the bankruptcy to be released?

An approval must follow the direction provided in the release by the Bankruptcy court. That is why a short sale will not be approved unless a court order permitting the sale is first received.

What fees can be paid related to the bankruptcy proceeding?

Any fees that are directly associated with the bankruptcy would be subject to further review and approval. For example, if Bank of America incurs fees to file a pleading to approve the short sale in the Bankruptcy court, Bank of America may seek permission from the Bankruptcy court to allow such attorney and filing fees.

Can a homeowner qualify for a Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) incentive while in bankruptcy?

Yes. However, any funds going to the Homeowner(s) through state incentives or other incentive programs must be properly disclosed and handled in accordance with bankruptcy legislation and local rules.

Are additional documents required for a short sale when the homeowner is in active bankruptcy?

Yes. Two additional documents are needed for a short sale that is in active bankruptcy:

  • An attorney authorization letter from the Bankruptcy attorney providing permission to speak with the Homeowner(s) is required. This is separate and in addition to the required Bank of America Third-Party Authorization Form signed by the Homeowner(s) permitting Bank of America to speak with the bankruptcy attorney and the real estate agent.
  • Bank of America must receive a release issued by the Bankruptcy court (listed above).

If you have questions, first contact your short sale specialist (or closing officer) through Equator messaging. If there’s no response after two days, escalate to the team lead.

For urgent needs (such as a foreclosure postponement) or for escalation beyond the team lead, contact Short Sale Customer/Agent Care at 1.866.880.1232.

Bank of America Short Sale Agent Update

December 4, 2012

short sale house

Understanding Short Sale Agent Commissions

Bank of America pays commissions to licensed real estate professionals who close acceptable short sale transactions.

Commissions are:

  • Allocated from the sale’s proceeds to qualifying real estate agents or attorneys at closing
  • Calculated as a percentage based on the total/gross sales price of the property
  • Usually divided between the buyer and seller agents, as per mutual agreement

The maximum commission for all acceptable transactions is as follows and is paid when the short sale reflects positive mitigation:

max commission

Flexibility is allowed in the commission structure when the short sale does not reflect positive mitigation* or if the minimum acceptable net proceed** is not met. In these circumstances, the real estate agent may choose to reduce his/her commission to meet minimum mitigation requirements.


  • Dual agents unrelated to either party will receive a 4% commission
  • In some situations, commission is limited per investor guidelines/investor approval and may vary

 Acceptable and Unacceptable Short Sale Transactions

In an acceptable transaction, commissions will always be paid within the following guidelines:

acceptable and unacceptable boa short sales

* Positive mitigation is the amount of loss Bank of America will mitigate by accepting the short sale as opposed to foreclosure.

** Minimum acceptable net proceed is the amount the investor requires to complete the short sale transaction.

An eligible short sale transaction is made on an arm’s-length basis, meaning the buyer and the seller have no personal, familial or professional (business associate, business interest) relationship and the property is listed for sale on the open market at fair market value. There may not be any actual or implied conflicts of interest.

If you have questions, first contact your short sale specialist (or closing officer) through Equator messaging. If there’s no response after two days, escalate to the team lead.

For urgent needs (such as a foreclosure postponement) or for escalation beyond the team lead, contact Short Sale Customer/Agent Care at 1.866.880.1232 between 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. (EST), Mon- Fri,  and 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (EST), Sat.

BOA Loosening Short Seller Policy

May 2, 2009

Bank of America (BOA) says it will relax its policy on payoffs connected with short sales.  Large banks have been demanding money for home equity lines and second mortgages that would otherwise be worthless if the short sale property went to foreclosure.

Old Policy:

BOA has been among the least cooperative of all banks in agreeing to short sale payoff terms, demanding 10% of what the homeowners owed on the equity line balance or second mortgage before signing off on the short sale, which is necessary for the deal to go through.  BOA spokesman Terry Francisco says the new policy is “less arbitrary, more rational.”

New Policy:

BOA’s new policy is to ask for 5% of the sale proceeds on the short sale, net of realty commissions, closing, and other costs. Some short sellers point to problems, though:  The bank’s previous 10 percent policy meant they’d demand $20,000 on a $200, 000 equity line balance, but under their new policy it will cost the short seller $15,000 if the net proceeds are $300,000″ on a short sale, even though the economic value of their holding may in fact be zero. Says the Realty Times:  “Bottom line for investors: If there’s a Bank of America second mortgage or credit line on the house you’re after in a short sale, work the new numbers.  At least some of the time you might be surprised that the answer from the big bank is now ‘yes.'”

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