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Short Sales Speedier with New Bank of America System

Bank of America's online Equator system establishes a single point of contact to facilitate the various steps involved in the often frustrating short sale process.

Facing foreclosure? Are you working with a distressed property? Have you tried to do a loan modification but you don’t qualify?

Trying to sell a home with these types of conditions has not been easy. Big banks have been inundated with contracts. The number of contracts combined with insufficient staff and uncertain processes for Realtors, buyers and sellers have caused long delays and failed contracts.

One bank has stepped forward to try and improve the situation. Bank of America is working to find common ground between buyers, sellers and Realtors by making the origination process transparent. Matt Vernon, a Bank of America executive, in a meeting with the National Association of Realtors, explained that the bank has finally realized that it must change its business model to meet the demands of their customers and help stabilize the market.

The goal is to get the right people in place to handle the process quickly and efficiently providing for a good customer experience. But, just having more staff will not alleviate the problems. The bank also knows that it must redesign the origination process. It has set some guidelines in motion to accomplish just that.

According to Mr. Vernon, the bank’s core strategy is shifting from refinance to a more dedicated buying side. He is predicting a rise in short sales and the bank must be in a position to handle the volume and protect the interests of the bank as well as their customers.

On April 14, 2012, Bank of America initiated new procedures for completing a short sale transaction. The online transaction system has been designed for communication between borrowers and their advisors reducing time and enabling the bank to perform underwriting tasks at the same time that agents are collecting the necessary information and paperwork. The system is designed to make the origination process transparent.

The online system,Equator, establishes a single point of contact. All contact is through Equator eliminating the frustration of no return calls and different answers from different people. All questions must be answered within 2 days. This isn’t instant, but at least this is a huge improvement.

A home loan guide is available which walks through the origination process step by step and gives everyone a better understanding of what needs to happen for a successful close. Realtors should take advantage of the information to help their clients and prevent unnecessary frustration.

When loan modification is not possible on a distressed property and a short sale is the option, Bank of America is providing transition funding. The short sale must be initiated by the end of this year and closed by the end of 2013. Not all short sales qualify so you must contact the bank or check out the web site for explanation and guidelines.

There have been many horror stories about lost paperwork, delays and uncertainty. Buyers have been put off from making offers on short sales because of fear of a 9 month close and the need to get on with their plans. Will the Bank of America’s Equator process eliminate all problems? That doesn’t seem possible, but at least the bank finally understands how their actions affect their customers and what their inability to act is doing to their bottom line.

Joan Probala is the managing broker for Issaquah Windermere (Windermere Real Estate/East Inc.). She has 30 years of experience in real estate, construction and sales. She is president-elect (2012) of the Seattle King County Association of Realtors.

G-man July 07, 2012 at 07:24 PM
This system totally sucks. We signed a contract on 2/23/2012 and still no word from BofA. Only the seller can see Equator and they don't seem to be in a hurry to close the deal. What happened to the policy in Florida to make a decision in 30 days? To really speed up the process, ALL parties need access to equator.
Lorrie K July 07, 2012 at 11:09 PM
"...at least the bank finally understands how their actions affect their customers and what their inability to act is doing to their bottom line." Hahahaha The banks have not taken their eyes off of their bottom line for a second. As far as how they effect customers, does anyone believe that they care? When caught committing a crime, they just pay a little fine, donate a few bucks to buy some buy good PR, and keep cashing those bonus checks. Speaking of paychecks, how much did B of A pay the writer of this article? Way to sell out cheap, Joan.
m July 10, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I completely agree. I am in the same situation with no end in sight. I am assured all the paperwork is there and the bpo has been completed. I'm sure they will have to request another bpo since it will expire before they decide to even respond. Way to speed things along BofA.
Maria August 08, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I could not agree with you more! We are in the same situation. Offer made more than 3 months ago, and the agents assigned by BOfA to handle and "expedite" the short sale have been changed 3 times... August 8, 2012...still waiting. This was just a PR move by BofA to better their reputation but their lack of professionalism and ethics speak louder than any PR ploy
jenni c September 23, 2012 at 03:18 PM
We made our short sale offer at the beginning of June, and were still waiting. Our sellers have been very responsive--they say they submit everything that's requested of them right away. They've already moved out, so I know they're not trying to stay in the home as long as they can. Bank of America is just the worst. Were only seeing these articles so buyers were okay with submitting offers on their houses. Now, were stuck!
Jackie Girardi September 27, 2012 at 02:07 PM
6 months later NOTHING! No closing date in sight! I am irritated beyound believe they countered and we accepted THEIR offer and that was a month ago! Why is so hard if someone accepts the banks offer to not get it together right away so they can get the $ for the house and be done? Why sit on it like a fat duck?
Mary L. November 19, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I'm in Kansas and having the same experience. We submitted the offer on August 19th and actually had a "response" in 20 business days.....in the form of a counter offer from BofA for $20,000 MORE THAN THE LISTED PRICE! We countered, adding $100 to our offer. On October 8th we received a sales worksheet indicating what appeared to be an acceptance of our counter. They had all of the fees detailed this time around. We signed and sent it back the same day. We've heard nothing since.
Mike_I November 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
100+ Days and all Bank of America is doing is slowly ramping up the price through a multiple step bureaucracy. 3000 dollars per interval. Each time we accept the new counter offer some other "Investor" makes us up the price again. This feels a lot like a bait and switch sale instead of a "Short Sale" . I'd consider a lawyer but I have burnt up my nest egg trying to buy this elusive property. Simply put, if Bank of America is involved in any of your transactions run away as quickly as possible. So much for having a nice 1st Christmas in our dream home.
Phillip Frost November 29, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I cannot emphasize enough that you have to have an agent that fully understand and ONLY works with Short Sales. If you know the banks processes and how their underwriting works, you can turn a short sale in roughly 45 days. With some of the new programs out there, even faster!! Please do everyone a favor as a homeowner and do your research before you hire an agent. As an agent - refer the file to someone that knows what they are doing!!
S, D January 04, 2013 at 01:31 AM
I will never do business with BofA ever!! I signed on to buy a short sale in April 2012 with my offer. It took 4 1/2 months for them to come back and ask for $12,500 more and asked me to pay a $3000 seller fee, which I found out was to pay for the sellers attorney fee's, I accepted the $12,500 but not the seller fee. It now has been an additional 5 months with not word from them. Although my realtor and the realtor for the seller said the bank may not accept their offer which was given to me through them (BofA) as unacceptable as houses have gone up and the house I am in short sale with has sold in the neighborhood for an additional $30,000. So basically the bank gave me an offer I took and they sat on for 5 months with no explanation as to why there is no answer when their committee meets once a month to go over these deals and makes decisions on. If they meet once a month why does it take them 4 to 5 months to come back with an answer. I am not sorry to say that BofA does not have the best interest in the customer. They are looking out only for themselves while the seller sits in that house for free and saving their monthly payments. Wouldn't it be nice to live for free in a house with no consequences. No matter what the outcome is I will never do business with them!
Matt kegal January 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM
I get so tired of realtors complaining about Bank of America doing everything wrong when agents constantly put in documents with wrong information, and wonder why the process is taking forever. These agents then tell their buyers that its boa fault for my deciding when the listing agent has uploaded the wrong document 7 times.
Julie January 20, 2013 at 05:36 PM
We have put an offer on December 14th and we have yet to hear anything. The only information we have is that the sellers signed the contract and the offer was sent to Bank of America. I have been following up with my realtor and have told them that I would like weekly updates to the status but it seems like this is not happening. I have to continuously follow up to be told that the Sellers realtor has not been answering their calls or text. This is really frustrating. I work for a financial institution and I keep my customers informed regardless if there are no updates. The key to good customer service is that you let your customers know that you have their best interest. In addition, I was told that the property has two liens Bank of America and sovereign bank and this can make the process longer. Can anyone share any good s short sale stories as I am starting to loose hope. Thanks
Joe rami January 23, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Hi everyone ,after 8 months a m closing,...its a very stressfull situation, all you need is a good agent, and lot of patience, to get your dream home, 48 hrs before closing date ,bank of america will require the HUD, too see and review. it, thats the last thing you will have to pass, good luck....
Mike Shuster June 06, 2013 at 07:52 AM
Bank of America Short Sales Speedier? That is a load of crap. We have had an offer on a short sale for 9 weeks. The latest update we have is that not a single piece of paperwork has been pushed through. Bank of America is worthless when it comes to short sales. The level of incompetence is astonishing.It cannot be that hard to file paperwork.

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