The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Six of Nothing or HAFA Dozen of Zero (Part 1)

Percentage of my Short Sales that Qualified for HAFA: 0

Number of Agents I Know Who’ve Been Able to Use HAFA: 0

What the Government Must Be Paying Their HAFA Marketing Rep: A Lot of Money

If you work in real estate, you’ve heard about the HAFA program. You probably got an email from a mortgage or title rep a month ago that said, ‘Introducing the most wonderful, solve-everything including but not limited to: the economy, foreclosure, all money problems for everyone, glaucoma, cancer and athlete’s foot… HAFA!!!! Come take a class on how to make it work for you!’ written in flashing glitter dust.

HAFA stands for Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives and it is a government program that went into effect April 5, 2010. It’s been billed as the solution to the short sale problem. The point of HAFA isn’t to keep people in their homes (HAMP is the sister program designed to help the people who want to stay in their homes), it’s for the multitudes who are leaving their homes whether you like it or not. These are the people who bought at the peak and were transferred out of state, or who bought a smallish super expensive house five years ago when they only had one child and now they have three kids and could rent a house twice the size of what they are in for 1/3 of their current mortgage payment, or the people who bought a condo at the peak and then met their soul mate who already owns a nice-sized house and they can’t rent out the condo for even close to the mortgage. Life has continued to evolve even though the economy has continued to devolve.

So the point of HAFA was apparently to put some structure to the short sale problem and give people in these types of situations some help and some options. Specifically, sellers who qualify for HAFA would be given an acceptable short sale price BEFORE the house is put on the market (because usually with short sales we just list it at what the market dictates is a ‘fair’ price, AKA: a close your eyes and point to a list of numbers technique to determining what the bank will accept… very scientific), a timeframe would be establish early on so that the buyer and seller will actually know when the short sale approval will be received, sellers will receive $3000 to help with moving expenses, and, most importantly, sellers will be released from all future liability for the first mortgage debt. So, you know, it’s basically the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for people in this situation. Yes, they will still have almost total credit destruction, but otherwise, not a bad deal.

I very first heard of the HAFA program on April 5, 2010, the day it came into effect. I remember this, because I was at one of my company’s offices that I don’t normally work out of, in the back computer room printing flyers. Another agent (one of the top company agents) was madly pacing around the office employing the ‘screamy bossy shout shout’ technique to get what she wanted from a lender on the phone. It was impossible not to eavesdrop and I was immediately fascinated. She was insisting that her client was eligible for the HAFA program and that it took effect today and that the bank needed to give her an amount to list the house at. So of course, I immediately googled HAFA and came up with this website. And then I fainted dead away at the possibility of the awesomeness.

When I woke up, I immediately called all of my short sale clients and told them all about how super fabulous it was going to be. And then I spent the next two full days on the phone with lenders having the following conversation over and over again:

Me: I need to have my client enrolled in the HAFA program.

Bank rep: Oh we don’t do the HAFA program.

Me: Well I looked on the government website about it and your bank was included on the list of participating lenders.

Bank rep: Well, I’m not for-sure (swear to Allah at least two of them said ‘for-sure’) about it, but I know your client doesn’t qualify, even if we do it.

Me: Wait, so you’re saying you don’t know if you have the program, but if you do, we can’t use it? But I haven’t even given you my client’s name and loan number yet.

Bank rep: Yeah, but only 0.0006% of the loans we service can be used in that program. And also your client makes too much money. Plus she’s too old, blonde and Jewish and she used to suck her thumb when she was little. Her mom told us. Not to mention the fact that we haven’t had the training on this program yet. It’s next week.

Me: But I thought you said you don’t even have the program.

Bank rep: We don’t.

Bank rep: But I can transfer you to someone else, if you want.

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