New bill to speed up short sales
Senators Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown, and Sherrod Brown are proposing a bill requiring mortgage lenders to make a prompt decision on whether to allow a short sale at the request of a home buyer. The bill, “Prompt Notification of Short Sales Act,” will require a written response from the lender no later than 75 days after the receipt of the written request from the buyer. This bill will require that the lender’s written response to the buyer must specify whether the request was approved, if more time is required the servicer must estimate a date a decision will be reached. The loan servicer is limited to one extension no longer than 21 days. This will give the distressed homeowner a more definite timeline for when the short sale will be completed so they can plan their move better. In April 2011, Representatives Thomas Rooney of Florida and Robert Andrews of New Jersey introduced a similar version of the bill but it never came up for debate before a House committee before the legislative session ended. The previous version said that that if a borrower submitted a written request for a short sale of a home and if they didn’t receive a written response within 45 days, the request would be considered approved. This new version extends the response time for lenders but includes a penalty if they fail to comply. If the loan servicer doesn’t respond to a buyer’s request within the 75 day period, the buyer may be awarded $1000, plus reasonable attorney fees, per violation of the Act. The new bill would hold banks accountable to specific standards that they must follow, streamlining the process for everyone involved in the short sale transaction. It would make short sales more attractive to buyers and eliminate the uncertainty related to buying a short sale, resulting in more sales of distressed properties. This reduction of housing inventory will assist the stabilization of home prices and the real estate market.