A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

With 25+ years of combined Real Estate experience, The Caton Team is blessed with working with our clients one home after the other.

When Michael bought his first condo with Susan years ago – it was only natural for him to call her again now that he was ready to buy his next home.  By now Susan & I had teamed up and I had the joy of working with Michael as well.

Such a professional and patient gentlemen, we started our journey early in 2013.  Faced with limited inventory and competition we took our time to find choice properties and enjoyed finding the right condo complexes that would fit his lifestyle.

Finally on a sunny Tuesday we found a great 2-bedroom 2-bath condo in San Mateo.  It was a short sale but we were up for the task.  Offer in, up against three other offers – we were so happy to let him know his offer was accepted.

Then the wait begins.  For a short sale, the seller has a long to-do list.  Great clients do what they need to do to get a short sale approved.  Other types of people brush their responsibility off.   We knew short sales take time to get approved.  We knew short sales are a LOT of work. Each week we checked in with the seller’s agent and received short and useless updates.  We grew suspicious and Susan hit the Internet to do some investigating.  Much to our surprise, the unit was set for foreclosure auction the following day!  Quickly The Caton Team reached out to the seller’s agent to implore the urgency of a true update.  Sadly, not all Realtors are created equal and this particular agent brushed us off again.  We did all we could do as the buyer’s Realtor and the following day, with baited breath, we watched the auction site to see if it would be postponed.  Right before our eyes the unit was sold at auction.  When we called the sellers agent to get a handle on this situation – she kindly hung up the phone.

Without missing a beat Susan called Michael and we hit the ground running looking for a new home.  It didn’t take long, another unit, very similar to the one we just lost, was for sale – but they were taking offers the following day!

Michael is a trooper; he met Susan at the home the next morning, saw it, wrote the offer and submitted by the deadline.  By that evening we had the joy of telling him is offer was accepted!  Within less than 24 hours we went from bad news to fantastic news.

It ain’t over till it’s over though – that is a fact.  As the escrow proceeded we had a hiccup – the unit did not appraise for our offer price….which was less than the last sale of an identical unit.   When interest rates went up – the market had turned from a sellers market early in the year to a different market in a matter of weeks.  The appraiser was cautious – and we can’t blame him for being prudent.  No one wants another bust!  Thankfully both the listing agent and the sellers understood the situation and we were able to re-negotiate a win/win deal that evening.

The best feeling in the world is handing over the keys.  Though it was a long and bumpy ride, The Caton Team was able to get our client a better home and in the end Michael is happy – and that makes everything worthwhile.

How can The Caton Team help you?

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story…. Russ and Natalie’s 5 Month Wait for Their Home

This past year has been very competitive for home buyers at every price point on the San Francisco Peninsula.  Then again, it’s been a competitive housing market since the we hit bottom back in ’09.

I recall in 2006 when my husband and I bought our first place, a one bedroom condo in Foster City, prices were moving up fast.  As a Realtor and first time buyer on a budget, I knew that if my husband and I didn’t buy soon we’d be priced out of the market…including condos.  Then there was the crash and poof….prices started falling.

By 2009 homes prices had fallen as low as they could go and people were starting to feel confident in investing in real estate again.  That’s when Russ and Natalie, who had just had twins, needed a home.  We started our journey together and it quickly became evident – they weren’t the only people buying homes in the Bay Area.  I feel like a broken record in 2012 when I say – they wrote a whole bunch of offers back then and got out bid by higher offers, offers with larger down payments or cash offers with quick timing.  It was tough.  Susan and I take the punches with each client when they don’t get an offer accepted.  Yet Russ and Natalie were troopers, got up, dusted off and got back on the horse.  Sue and I truly wanted to hand them the keys to their first home before the twins started to walk.  And they were starting to walk!

Around Thanksgiving a home that was previously pending came back on the market. It was a tricky short sale that fell apart.  As they can do.  We showed it as soon as we could.  Russ and Natalie were so great about being open to possibilities, ready to get their hands dirty and build some “sweat equity”.  They saw the possibilities this particular home had to offer.  It’s funny. I know the home you think you will buy and the home you actually buy are often very different.  Each buyers journey is unique.  I know my first time buying was not at all what I expected.

Anyway, I digress.  It was the holidays and had this home popped on the market any other week – maybe we would have been outbid.  Instead Russ and Natalie wrote a terrific offer and with the help of The Caton Team their offer was accepted.

That’s when the hard work really starts on a short sale property.  The Caton Team was very fortunate to work with Shirley Krause, whom represented the seller during what proved to be an almost 6 month group effort.

It’s a long wait – for everyone – when buying or selling a short sale.  Just around the twins birthday in the Spring Susan and I had the pleasure of handing the keys to Russ and Natalie.  Yes, they waited 5 months to get their house!

Moral of this Cinderella Story, don’t give up. Not now. Not if you want to call our gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area home sweet home.  So now as the malls fill up with shoppers and homes are sitting on the market ignored – give us a call – you never know the possibilities until you try.

Thank you Russ and Natalie for working with The Caton Team.  Here is to many happy years in your lovely home.

Happy Holidays!

Curious about my own buying and selling experiences?  Although I am a Realtor by trade, I’m no different than you when sitting in the buyer or seller seat.  Enjoy my journey through homeownership at: http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Top 5 Homebuyer Regrets – Had to share this article…

Please enjoy this article I found…

Top 5 Homebuyer Regrets

By Tara-Nicholle Nelson

In life, and in real estate, there are decisions that, if we had them to do over again, we might do x, y or z differently. But all in all, we are not too upset about how things turned out. “C’est la vie,” as they say.

Then there are the decisions and actions we actively regret, worrying over their long-term consequences, wishing we could have a cosmic do-over, stewing and ruminating over what we did wrong. (In truth, it’s a sign of emotional maturity to see every experience as an education, and to be free from ruminating over even the worst of our regrets. But I digress).

Contrary to popular belief, my experience shows that the vast majority of homebuyers commit what they see as the first type of mistakes, but not those deep, dark regrets. However, those that do have serious regrets can lose many hours of sleep and many thousands of dollars trying to remedy them. Their only gain? Experience and gray hairs.

Here are the top 5 true, deep regrets of homebuyers and some insights for how to prevent them from taking over your own life:

1. Premature buying. This is not at all about timing the market or making sure you get in at the “just-right” moment. There’s not much you can or should do about that. But buying before your life or your finances are ready for homeownership is a transgression that ends up causing serious, long-term regrets for those who end up doing it. Premature buying takes several forms, the most common of which includes jumping the gun and buying before you’ve saved as much as you really need, or before you’ve paid your debt down to the level you really needed to.

Another pervasive form of premature buying is to buy before you’ve truly, deeply, seriously run all your own personal financial numbers, which puts you in the position of forced reliance on what the bank, lender or someone else thinks is affordable, which is often wrong.

Similarly, buying because you feel pressure to get in while the market is keeping prices and interest rates low, rather than because you want and can afford a home, is a surefire path to real estate regret.

2. Buying too small of a house. People who buy too large of a home often realize, several years in, that they simply aren’t using all of their rooms and many either sell and downsize or find ways to put the extra space they have to better use. People who buy too small of a home, on the other hand, are acutely aware of it from the moment their children start fighting, they find themselves and their energy levels deactivated by clutter or they end up realizing that there is no room at the inn for the family members or friends they’d like to house, short or long term.

Buying too large of a home is potentially wasteful of the money spent maintaining, heating and cooling the place; buying too small a home is uncomfortable and frustrating, sometimes intensely so, on a constant basis — hence, the regret it can create.

Avoid this regret by starting your house hunt with a visioning exercise: What do you want your home life to look like in 10 years? Who will live with you? Do you entertain or have overnight guests? What activities do you want or need to be able to do there? Do you want to practice yoga, crafts, have kid-sized homework spaces, work at home, collect classic cars or move your parents in? If so, seek to buy a home that can comfortably fit all these people and their activities, even though they might not all exist — yet.

3. Buying a home you can’t truly afford. You might think that one of the top 5 regrets of homebuyers would be buying at the top of the market. But that’s not the case — I know plenty of buyers who bought at the top, paid top dollar and are still upside down on their homes, yet are still happy with their homes because they can well afford the payment and bought homes that will serve their families very well for the very long term (which will allow their home’s value to recover).

It is much more problematic to simply overextend yourself on a home — no matter what the market dynamics are at the time you buy. People who both bought at the top of the market AND overextended themselves made up the large majority of folks who lost homes, as the mortgage gyrations they went through (i.e., taking short-term, interest-only, adjustable-rate mortgages) in order to qualify for the home in the first place also caused them to be utterly unable to sustain the mortgage once the market declined and their mortgages weren’t able to be refinanced.

If you can’t foresee being able to make the mortgage payment on your home 10 years in the future without refinancing it, that’s a sign you might be approaching the unaffordability danger zone.

4. Incompletely resolving co-buyer conflicts. Many co-buyers are couples, but I’ve also seen parents buy homes with their children, siblings buy homes together and even good friends team up to co-buy a home. Any time there is more than one buyer, there is a chance that the co-buyers will have one or more disconnects in their wants, needs and priorities. Often these are resolved almost effortlessly by the realities of the homes that are on the market (e.g., neither party’s dream home turns out to actually exist, or pricing realities require everyone to compromise); other times, people simply work things out like mature individuals, seeking first to understand their co-buyer’s position, then working out a compromise that works for everyone involved.

But in still other cases, the conflict is never truly, deeply resolved; even on closing day, one side feels completely misunderstood, or caves in for the sake of avoiding conflict, or someone simply throws a tantrum, insisting that they get their way. In these cases, it’s common for the party who feels undermined and trampled on to ruminate on it as they live in the property every single day, ending up with great resentment and anger over the years.

5. Taking on fixing beyond their skill, patience and resource level. It can be heartbreaking to tour one of the many homes on the market that was clearly the subject of a previous owner’s fixer-upper dream but was abandoned in the middle of a remodel. Often, these abandonments happen because the owner simply underestimated what the project would take and ran out of time, energy or, most commonly, money to get the remodeling completed. But it’s even sadder to tour the home of a frustrated fixer whose owner and family still lives in a half-done, very dysfunctional property, and who are getting more and more disgruntled with their situation every time they make a mortgage payment.

I read this article at:  http://lowes.inman.com/newsletter/2012/08/29/news/199628

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story… Lisa and All Those Offers….

The inspiration for this section of our blog – Cinderella Story – was inspired by Lisa and her long journey to home ownership.

Enjoy – Sabrina

Let’s take a look back to 2010 when Russ and Natalie referred their neighbor and dear friend Lisa to us.  Lisa was looking to buy her first home.  We got her pre-approved with Melanie Flynn at First Priority Mortgage and she qualified for the FHA loan.  With her pre-approval letter in hand the hunt began.  And what a hunt it was.

2010 was a tough year…the real estate market had been in a slump…the world knew the real estate market had crashed.  Many buyers were hesitant to buy, fearing the prospect of over paying while the market was still going down.  Locally however, by 2010, we had already hit bottom in many areas of the SF Peninsula the year before and we were now seeing the market slowly starting to recover.  Multiple offers and bidding wars were starting up again.  But unless you were in the trenches as a Realtor or buyer/seller…you wouldn’t know because the media was intent on focusing on the national real estate market which was still struggling.

At the time, the market was heavy on short sale properties, and with the banks so overwhelmed, the process of trying to buy some short sale houses outweighed the joy of owning the house.  Nonetheless,  we wrote offers on choice short sales for Lisa.  I swear, we’re still waiting to hear back on some of them.  There were also some regular sales, but if the home was in nice shape, you could guarantee multiple offers and a bidding war within the week.  The rest of the homes on the market were in pretty bad shape.  Yes the hunt continued.  We looked at many homes in various areas.  My favorite quality of Lisa was her imagination.  She could look at the dumpiest house and see it’s potential.  There were a few times Susan & I steered her away from homes with too many projects.  We truly wanted her to buy a home she could afford, that would need only cosmetic work – not structural headaches.

Lisa had an open mind.  Each home we checked out she seriously considered.  She wrote great offers, including letters to the sellers with a cute photo of her and her furry baby.  She listened to our suggestions and advice.  However, with each offer we would discover the seller accepted an all cash offer….sometimes for less than Lisa’s offer.  We kept checking out homes and writing offers till she could practically explain the purchase contract to us.  In light of constantly being outbid, Lisa wasn’t discouraged.  Well maybe a little, but she would dust herself off and keep on going.  We hunted for more than 6 months…but in retrospect we could have easily looked for a year.

Then one day while Susan & I were touring listings, we drove by a home we hadn’t seen yet.  On my trusty smart phone I looked it up and found out it was a bank owned home that had just fallen out of contract.  It was currently priced higher than we could go, it was an older home, in a beautiful west side location – and well just sitting there.  I quickly did some research.  The home had never had an open house, was never on broker tour and had just fallen out of contract – I called the Listing Agent.  Being that it was already bank owned and had fallen out of contract, I explained our situation to the listing agent and that afternoon we wrote an offer.  Within the week we heard the good news, the bank accepted our price (under list price) and we were on our way to closing an escrow.  After our inspections came up with no surprises, you could tell Lisa was slowly getting excited.  Finally, after writing nearly 20 offers and being outbid and beat up over and over again – 3o days later we popped the bubbly and handed Lisa the keys to her new home.

The moral of this Cinderella Story – sometimes you gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince charming.

Congrats on hitting the 2 year anniversary in your home Lisa.  We truly enjoyed working with you and turning your home ownership dream into a reality.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

3 ways Homebuyers kill their OWN real estate deals…

Hello  again!  Below is a great article I read in Inman News that I thought I would share.  I truly see this often….

Got questions – the Caton Team is here to help.  We are a click away – email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

3 ways homebuyers kill their own real estate deals

Mood of the MarketBy Tara-Nicholle Nelson

I recently bought a couple of spa treatment packages for a friend’s birthday (as much as a gift to myself as to her, to be sure). The package included a pedicure and a massage for the price of the massage, but had a bizarro restriction that required I pick the gift cards up at least one day prior to spa day.

The problem: The spa was across a bridge from my town. Despite my very best calculations, I hit unexpected traffic and it took me an hour’s drive just to pick them up.

It’s a good thing for the spa that I was literally stuck on that bridge, unable to turn around; otherwise, that would have been an undone deal. I was very clear that the value of my hour far exceeded the value of those two “pedis.”

In the end, the conditions I had to surmount to take advantage of the bargain negated the value of the deal — and then some.

And that happens much more frequently than you’d think in the world of real estate. Today’s ridiculously low prices and interest rates, combined, seem like the perfect storm for finding a great deal.

But some buyers run into — or even unwittingly create — circumstances in an effort to cash in on the bargain that deactivate or diminish the full value they otherwise stand to gain from buying at the bottom of the market, for both home prices and interest rates.

Here are three ways homebuyers are defeating their own deals in today’s market:

1. House hunting too long. As many as 60 percent of the homes for sale in some markets are short sales. Many other listings are bank-owned (also known as real estate owned or REO) properties, and those homes tend toward two extremes: terrible condition, or so nice at such a low price they receive multiple offers.

Even the nicer, nondistressed homes on the market can end up in and out of contract over and over again due to appraisal or other lending-related issues.

As a result, it is not at all bizarre to hear homebuyers today say they’ve been house hunting for a year, 18 months, even two or three years. When you house hunt that long, you become susceptible to house hunt fatigue, which causes irrationally extreme overbidding out of sheer exhaustion.

Alternatively, it can cause you to settle for whatever house you can get, even if it doesn’t actually meet your needs — then spend the next 10 years obsessively spending to upgrade, improve, repair and furnish the place to try to make it more like the home you actually wanted.

Both of these outcomes negate and deactivate the bargain you stood to score.

To avoid house hunting too long, it’s uber-important to get and stay clear on the differences between what you want and what you need, and to work with a local real estate professional you trust.

Look to your agent to get and keep your expectations centered in reality, so you can make more strategic decisions throughout your entire house hunt, like house hunting in a price range where you’re likely to both find homes that will work for your life and be successful in your efforts to obtain one.

2. Making lowball offers way too low. Overbidding seems like an obvious way to cancel out the bargain potential of your deal. But making excessively low offers — offers sellers couldn’t afford to take if they wanted to — can have the very same result.

Buyers who think they can operate strictly on the basis of buyer’s market dynamics — without realizing that most sellers will need to make enough to pay off their mortgage or at least receive the fair market value for their home — are cutting off their own noses to spite their faces, all in the name of trying to score an amazing deal.

Note to “lowballers”: If you don’t actually secure the home, the superlow price you offered is no deal at all.

3. Freak-outs, stress, drama and mayhem. Once was, it was mostly the buyers uneducated about the homebuying process who tended to freak out and stress the most, especially at the top of the market. These were the folks who found themselves defeated at every turn by buyers who knew what they were up against and were prepared to make their best offer on their first offer.

Fast forward, and now the norm is for buyers to spend much more time reading up on what to expect, but the inundation of information can create brand new mindset management challenges.

Almost every buyer is stressed about whether they can qualify for a loan, and about buying into a down market. Some buyers try to apply national headlines about home prices being depressed to the superlocal dynamics of their neighborhood market.

This is unwise if you happen to be, for example, trying to buy a home in the boomtown real estate markets of Silicon Valley. Others go the opposite direction and deny that the basic truths about, say, buying a short-sale listing will actually apply to them (attention homebuyers: buying a short sale usually takes a long, long time).

The emotional freak-outs that result from having your expectations shattered, sometimes brutally, in the course of buying a home often lead to panic-based and fear-based decisions, which can be costly in the short and long term. Additionally, the stress itself can take a toll on your ability to be productive at work, and can even impair your relationship with your mate, neither of which are worth any deal you think you stand to strike.

Again, managing your expectations by working with a trusted broker or agent you feel comfortable relying on to understand the market in your neck of the woods and the type of transaction you want to pull off is essential to downgrading the role emotion plays in your real estate decision-making.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:  http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

HAFA Short Sale Program

When a homeowner is faced with loosing their home or selling it as a short sale – the decisions are difficult and time consuming.  Often the hoop jumping to work with the bank becomes a second job.  If the loan modification didn’t pan out and the mortgage payments will overwhelm the family – selling the home may be the best course of action.  Foreclosure is the last thing anyone wants to face.  And as a Realtor, the last thing I want to see happen to anyone.

The best course of action is to contact the bank and inform them of the situation immediately. That’s where the HAFA program (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative) comes in.  HAFA was created to streamline the process and get the homeowner out of the home with provisions to assist them with the sale and conditions to protect them afterwards.

For more information – please visit:

http://www.realtor.org/government_affairs/short_sales_hafa

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:  http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

How to Write a Great Offer on a Short Sale Property…

So you’ve found your dream home only to find out it is a short sale.  Nuts.  Now what?

A short sale is a pre-foreclosure property.  Perhaps the seller has stopped paying their mortgage and are in default, or perhaps the seller is on top of paying their mortgage, but are forced to sell when the market is down.  Either way it comes down to one thing – the seller owes more than the home is worth and in order to sell the property free and clear of any liens the seller must ask the bank to take less than they are owed – thus the term short sale.

For a seller to qualify for a short sale they must be in financial distress and prove this to the bank.

For a buyer in requires great patience while the offer package and seller financial documents are reviewed by many many many investors.

Because of the tedious review process – a buyer must be wise when writing their initial offer.

How to write a good offer on a short sale home…

To be frank, when writing an offer on a short sale property you only get one shot.  Once and if the bank accepts the short sale offer – that price is firm.  During the buyers contingency period – if they find out there is an expensive issue – there is no going back to the bank and re-negotiating.  The buyer can either walk away from the deal due to the new information – or the buyer can take a look at their other options on the market and decide what is best for them.  Of course, as your Realtors – the Caton Team will try to renegotiate the price and if an appraisal comes in low – that’s ammo.

The good news – since generally the owners still occupy the home, it is not in too bad of shape and disclosures can be provided up front.

So, how do we write a good offer?  Buyers and their agent will take into consideration the pro’s and con’s of the home and write their best offer after taking a look at comparable properties on the market.  The short sale bank will conduct one or more appraisals of the home and if the buyers offer price is in line with market price – generally the bank will move forward with that offer.

Price is important but sometimes it is not everything.  When writing any offer, a buyer will need to have a bank pre-approval letter, copy of their bank statements and pay checks to show their financial security.  The short sale bank wants to be sure the purchaser is strong.

The terms of the contract are equally important.  Time is always of the essence in Real Estate – it is even a term in the contract.  When dealing with a short sale bank – a buyer and their Realtor have got to think like a bank – that means moving fast when the bank is ready.  Close of Escrow should be a 30 window – shorter if possible.  Longer than 30 days tends to turn the bank away.  As for as contingency periods (time for the buyer to conduct their inspections and appraisal) the short sale bank will give the buyer the standard window of time – generally 10-17 days after acceptance.  Having a tight contingency period will make the short sale bank a bit more happy.  Also, the bank doesn’t move at anyone’s pace except their own – so giving the bank at least 3 months to review the short sale package is acceptable, longer is better if a buyer doesn’t mind.

Now on my end, as the Realtor – I want to make sure I send the bank your offer and all the paperwork by mail instead of fax so the bank has everything it needs and hopefully cutting down on the back and forth.

In the end, a buyer must write THEIR best offer, and whether they get the house or not, be comfortable with their purchase.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at:

Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp me at: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:  http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/