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Top Ten Reasons Short Sales Fail – Part I

 Over the years I’ve participated in hundreds of short sales, whether I was conducting my own, teaming up with other agents or investors, or coaching a client through the process.  I rode the learning curve and made my share of mistakes for sure, some of which I’d like to share with you to help you avoid the same setbacks. 


I’ve compiled a list of the top reasons that short sales fail. They’re in no particular order, as they say; they are all equally important, so I tried to post them in the order that you’ll encounter them.


Reason #1: The Uncooperative Seller 

What to look out for:  You know the type. Chip on their shoulder, a “don’t care” mentality, opt for aggression. They blow off all the paperwork or never cooperate for showings.  

Even worse is the seller who changes their mind halfway through the process, whether or not they signed a contract. You’ll hear from them, “I read about this…” or “My cousin told me…” and all the sudden they expect something out of the deal. 

What to do:  The majority of these behavioral issues can be solved during the initial contact. It begins with your own attitude: Treat short sales as a people business, not a real estate business. Keep in mind that you’re not dealing with a voluntary seller; you’re dealing with someone who is losing their home. They’re going through stages of depression, denial and aggression on their way to acceptance.


Loving but Stern Parent 

Sellers facing foreclosure are often unmotivated and insecure. Picture someone walking around with an umbilical cord looking for someone to plug it into. What they need is a loving but stern parent. 

Don’t get me wrong here: we’re not running a babysitting service. If you are forthright about your desire and ability to help them, and they are still uncooperative, simple: Find another seller.  They aren’t worth the time and energy. 

This is where you need to develop good people skills. I always try to present a pleasant, confident—but somewhat strict—personality. My clients know their responsibilities up front and the hustle required. I’m honest about what results they can expect, but that I can’t and won’t wait on them. (We use a three page seller disclosure that requires each paragraph initialed and the document signed to support this). 

I will only attempt to reach a seller three times. On the third call I say, “Seller, this is my third attempt to contact you to request …:  This is my last attempt to reach you.  If you have made other arrangements more practical for your situation, I wish you luck.  However, if you are going forward with this transaction, I need a response by…”   



Teaching is one of our tools against the insecurity of an unruly seller. When someone takes the time to show a seller all the points on the path, they are far more willing to follow, especially when you’ve just designated yourself as the authority. 

Many sellers are more knowledgeable than we often give them credit for; although they too often miss-interpret what they read, hear or experience.  You must be able to confidently explain their questions, often centered around what are they going to get out of the deal, how it is going to affect their credit –Please Don’t Say It Won’t, will they get a 1099 or a deficiency, who will pay your commission or their closing costs, etc; or be able to disclose these items if they don’t ask. 

Fully educating the seller on the short sale process up front will go a long way in relieving both your and their frustrations. 

Stay posted for the next topic: Reason #2 Not Collecting the Proper Documents from the Seller



Are you looking for more short sale leads?  Frustrated working with the lenders?  Do you want to learn while partnered with a seasoned team of short sale negotiators, RE agents, RE attorneys, title companies, mortgage brokers and investors?  Want to outsource your short sales?  Give us a call – 832-330-4588 or visit


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