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

December 24, 2012

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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.


Fannie Mae Relaxes Waiting Period for Buying a New Home After a Short Sale

May 3, 2010

 

In Announcement SEL-2010-05, Fannie Mae updated several policies regarding the future eligibility of borrowers to obtain a new mortgage loan after experiencing a preforeclosure event (preforeclosure sale, short sale, or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure).

The “waiting period” – the amount of time that must elapse after the preforeclosure event – is changing and may be dependent on the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for the transaction and whether extenuating circumstances contributed to the borrower’s financial hardship (for example, loss of employment). In addition, Fannie Mae is updating the requirements for determining that borrowers have re-established their credit after a significant derogatory credit event.

***Note:  The terms “short sale” and “preforeclosure sale” both referenced in the Announcement have the same meaning – the sale of a property in lieu of a foreclosure, resulting in a payoff of less than the total amount owed, which was pre-approved by the servicer.***

Waiting Period After a Preforeclosure Sale, Short Sale, or Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure

Fannie Mae is changing the required waiting period for a borrower to be eligible for a mortgage loan after a preforeclosure event. The waiting period commences on the completion date of the preforeclosure event, and may vary based on the maximum allowable LTV ratios.

Preforeclosure Event Current Waiting Period Requirements New Waiting Period Requirements(1)
 Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure 4 years  2 years – 80% maximum LTV ratios,  4 years – 90% maximum LTV ratios,  7 years – LTV ratios per the Eligibility Matrix
 Short Sale  2 years

 

Exceptions to Waiting Period for Extenuating Circumstances
Preforeclosure Event Current Waiting Period Requirements New Waiting Period Requirements (1)
 Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure 2 years      Additional requirements apply after 2 years up to 7 years  2 years – 90% maximum LTV ratios
 Short Sale  No exceptions are permitted to the 2-year waiting period

 (1) The maximum LTV ratios permitted are the lesser of the LTV ratios in this table or the maximum LTV ratios for the transaction per the Eligibility Matrix.

Bankruptcies

The multiple bankruptcy policy is being clarified to state that 2 or more borrowers with individual bankruptcies are not cumulative. For example, if the borrower has one bankruptcy and the co-borrower has one bankruptcy, this is not considered a multiple bankruptcy. The current waiting periods for bankruptcies remain unchanged.

Effective Date

This policy is effective for beginning July 1, 2010.

Requirements for Re-Establishing Credit

The requirements for borrowers to re-establish their credit after a significant derogatory event are also being updated. Fannie Mae is replacing the requirements related to the number of credit references and applicable payment histories with the waiting periods and other criteria.

After a bankruptcy, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or preforeclosure or short sale, the borrower’s credit will be considered re-established if all of the following are met:

  • The waiting period and the related requirements are met.
  • The loan meets the minimum credit score requirements based on the parameters of the loan and the established eligibility requirements.

The “Catch”?

Now to qualify after that 2 year period, the new regulations state that a minimum 20% down payment will be required; 10% for a down payment, the wait will revert to the 4 year minimum; less than 10% for a down payment, the wait could be even longer — UNLESS there are “extenuating circumstances” such as job loss, health problems, divorce, etc…

But doesn’t pretty much any short sale by default involve “extenuating circumstances”? Just show them the hardship letter you submitted with your short sale docs. Case closed.

Why This Matters?

So why does this matter, and how should you, as distressed homeowners, USE this information?

Well for starters, if you couple this with the Obama administration’s new short sale assistance program (where mortgage servicing companies are paid $1,000 to handle successful short sales and mortgage holders get $1,500 for signing over their property), you’ve now got more compelling reasons than ever to pursue a short sale rather than just throwing up your hands and “letting things go”.


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