The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Getting Inside the Head of The Bank

Today I had to rescue not one, but two sets of clients from the emotional vortex of, ‘trying to understand what the bank is thinking.’ Let me just tell you, this is not a pretty place to be. You know how in the Hotel California ‘you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave?’ Yeah. It’s kind of like that.

Client A has been watching a particular neighborhood for quite awhile for that perfect house. That perfect house consists of the correct layout and with the right kitchen for the wife and a smart financial buy for the husband. It’s a tough bill to fill in any situation, but they’ve got their hearts set on a fairly small geographical area to boot.

There is a house in this neighborhood that was originally listed as a short sale and appeared to fit the general needs for layout (and awesome kitchen). This house floundered on the market for awhile and the wife kept her eye on it. The listing was canceled back in October and a trustee’s sale date was scheduled in the tax records. This began to pique the husband’s interest because he felt like it might be obtainable for a ‘deal’ if it went to foreclosure. So they watched. And waited.

Every time the trustee’s sale date got closer, it was eventually pushed out further. It was set to go to trustee’s sale on November 10, and on the 9th, it was pushed out to the 30th. On the 29th it was pushed out to December 15th. It was a carrot on a stick. We never got close enough to grab it before it was thrust out in front of us again. As of this morning the trustee’s sale date is February 15.

In frustration my clients said to me, ‘Can we call the bank and put in an offer for a short sale then if they won’t actually foreclose on it?’ And I can see how this would make sense. It’s a vacant, abandoned house. The owner is clearly not paying the mortgage. The bank isn’t foreclosing on the house. The owner and the bank DON’T want the house. My clients DO want the house.

But the sad truth is there’s no one to make an offer to. The house isn’t on the market. The bank can’t agree to sell it unless they foreclose on it first. By the time I got through explaining the circular and idiotic logic of all of this to my clients’ satisfaction we were all spinning from the vertigo of it. I felt a little carsick. They both had headaches from banging their heads against the wall.

Client B has gotten her heart set on a house. She’s mentally painted the walls. She’s thrown imaginary keggers in the backyard around the pool. She’s given birth to imaginary children who came home from the hospital to sleep in the extra bedrooms. Client B LOVES. THIS. HOUSE.

Unfortunately, this house is a short sale and it’s a touch high in her price range. We made a lowball offer and because the listing agent didn’t have anything else, they took it to the bank. That was three and a half months ago. The listing agent stopped returning my calls or emails over a month ago. The last I was told, they didn’t think the offer was going to work and it looked like the bank was going to foreclose.

Yet again, the trustee’s sale dates have been set, and yet again they keep getting moved out. This case is particularly frustrating because my poor client’s hopes and dreams are hanging on the fact that nothing is happening here. If the bank would just accept our offer or EVEN COUNTER OFFER US, then we would at least know. OR if the bank would just foreclose, then the house would eventually come back on the market and we’d know what they want for it. As it stands Client B wonders constantly if maybe they’ll just accept her offer as she plans the holiday lights she’ll someday hang on the eves of the house and what she’ll serve her future husband for breakfast in the kitchen.

This time it’s me with the headache from the beating of my head against the wall. People who get attached to things I cannot deliver for them make me need many cocktails. And ulcer medication.

The question my clients always ask me in this situation is: why? Why don’t they just foreclose? Why do they push it out? What does it mean?

Because they’re effing with us, is the only answer I can come up with. Because they’re sitting there at bank headquarters with martinis and sparklers and having a big old party watching our heads explode while we try to figure out what is going on.

Close your eyes and count to ten. Think of summer breezes in a meadow with wild flowers. Hum meditatively to yourself and walk away from the vortex.

8 Responses to Getting Inside the Head of The Bank

  1. The only logical explanation, Elizabeth is that the bank:

    1. Doesn’t have an effing clue either.
    2. Bank personnel are highly trained (actually I think they are bred) to not think.
    3. The ones who can think are not in a position to actually do anything.

  2. Elizabeth, you are so right! And so much better with a phrase than I. Vortexes at the Hotel California indeed!

    Dealing with banks makes me want to stab my own eyes out with tuning forks. And I know it makes clients who have just met me think that surely I’m either (1) crazy, (2) pulling their leg, or worse, (3) lying to them about bank’s beyond-stupid behavior.

    Dave, you’re on to something here. I’ll add this:
    The bank employees who could think for themselves… those people? They were fired back in 2006 and 2007 when they said, “hey, some of these mortgages we’re making don’t seem quite right.”

    Now those former bank employees are working for minimum wage at fast food chains. At least they no longer have to visit the Bank Logic Vortex on a daily basis. Hmmmm, maybe I sense a new career for me. You want fries with that?

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Getting Inside the Head of The Bank – Real Estate Tangent -- Topsy.com

  4. My frustration with banks failure to act, is only surpassed by their failure to act intelligently!

    I just had a short sale refused at $555K, so they could foreclose and then sell it at $525K! :(

    Doesn’t make any sense, so I have to believe there is some secret government conspiracy that is working against us!

  5. It’s kind of freaky that you, Heather and I all railed on the banks today…

  6. Pingback: Boo hoo for the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase. $52M per day profit isn’t enough. The Phoenix Real Estate Guy

  7. @Dave – yes. agreed. so what do we do about it?

    @Heather – I’m with ya.

    @Vicki – UG, that is so annoying. I would be so pissed.

    @Jay – ok, that IS super weird.

    @Randy – yeah, but if we do that, then WE will all be even broker than we are now. If I didn’t work short sales at all, I would have lost 40% of my business last year.

    @Patrick – While you’re at it can you also organize a large scale boycott of people who have more than 10 items in the express lane checkout at the grocery store? I also find this stupid and annoying.

  8. Hi Elizabeth,

    Great article on the bank’s and their thought process. I especially like the part about sitting in their office with Martini’s and Sparklers.

    Bob Cox
    Realtor
    Keller Williams Realty
    Jacksonville, FL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Facebook comments: