Is Every Phoenix Short Sale Agent "Expert" Closing 95% Of Their Short Sales?

As a Phoenix short sale agent-broker for almost 10 years, I've noticed in recent months what I consider to be a rather disturbing trend.

Fellow Phoenix short sale Realtor® Tony Marriott noticed it long before I did, and has written some very thought-provoking blogs on the topic. His blogs have actually made me take notice of this recent epidemic of "expert" Phoenix short sale agents, most of which claim an extremely high ratio of short sale closings/listings.

We've all seen it. "We close 95% of our short sales", or "I'm an ABCD, and I KNOW how to get your short sale closed".

One local Phoenix short sale "expert", who will go unnamed (and who advertises heavily on local radio stations, direct mail, etc.) has closed roughly 33% of his short sale listings in the past year, according to MLS statistics.

Another team, who specializes in not only short sales, but training literally hundreds of agents in Phoenix (and who boasts about their 95% short sale closing rate), has actually closed approximately 70% of their short sale listings in the past year (nothing to sneeze at, but not what they advertise). Trust me, there are several more stories just like this, but I'll leave it to you to do your own research.

Here's another startling finding... Google the term "Phoenix Short Sale Realtor". The top three (whom all claim to be "gurus" in the Phoenix Short Sale Market), closed 8%, 32%, and 55% of their short sale listings respectively in the past 365 days, according to MLS.

So, what made me write this blog (besides being inspired by Tony Marriott)? This was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back", so to speak....

Today, I received a call on one of my listings from a local buyers agent. She hit me with the usual "interview" questions that she just picked up from her recent training, which now makes makes her an "ABCD" (i.e., an expert on short sales), and I did my best to bite my tongue and answer her respectively. Her last question is what got me....

"Do you already have a pre-approval for the short sale?" To which I responded, "No, like I said before, we have not received any offers on the property as of yet, and lenders will not consider a short sale until we receive a contract". "Well, that's not necessarily true, I ALWAYS get pre-approvals on my short sales before I ever get an offer", she says.

I couldn't help myself, and had to ask, "Can you share with me how you are doing this"? Her response, "It's very simple. I send a complete package to the lender once I get the listing, and I get a pre-approved price. That way, I can just list it at that price, and I know it will be approved. If you haven't done this, I think we should probably look at other options". Hmmmm, very interesting...

"So, how many short sale listings have you closed in the past year"?, I asked... "Twenty to twenty-five", she tells me.

Doing my best not to laugh out loud and not create an embarrassing situation for the poor agent, I bit my tongue (again) and tried to explain that we would love to see an offer from her, and to call me with anymore questions, should they arise.

Next, I went to the Arizona Multiple Listing Service, and my "hunch" proved correct...

In the past year, she has had ZERO short sale listings, and ONE "traditional" listing (which she closed). She has represented ONE buyer, and it was not on a short sale. Next, I went to the AZ Department of Real Estate website, and found that she has had her license for 3 years, and was now on her 6th broker.

Moral of the story for agents: When representing your clients, we, as agents/brokers, need to not only interview the other agent, but need to follow up and do research as well. You can save yourself a lot of wasted time/effort by taking 5 minutes to verify what you are hearing from the other side.

Moral of the story for Sellers: Do your research. When interviewing an agent to represent you on the short sale of your home, ask them, "What percentage of short sale listings have you closed in the past year"? When they tell you their percentage, ask them to show you via an MLS generated report.

Personally, my percentage of Phoenix short sale closings "floats" between 70-90% (not perfect, but close enough for government work). This is nothing to write home about, but it is respectable (in my opinion), and more importantly, it can be verified by going to ARMLS.

It's time to make people accountable for what they are advertising.

In other words, talk is cheap. Do yourself a favor and dig deeper, especially when you "smell a rat".

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Bob Hertzog

Summit Home Consultants

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