Do you have a dream home? You know, that one home that exists in your mind against which you measure all other homes? Is yours a cool loft condo, or an ornate historic home? Maybe it’s a new, custom built 3500 square foot home on 5 acres? Is it a quiet 30 acre gentleman’s farm in that place between large working farms and suburbia?
One very cool thing about the Dayton area is that you can start at Third and Main, and drive in nearly any direction and see all sorts of homes- everything from lofts, past historic homes, into post-war inner ring mid-century modern homes, newer subdivisions, small farms, and within 20 minutes you can be cruising past row after and tidy row of corn and soybeans. Dayton, like most of the Rust Belt, is wonderfully diverse in many ways, and that diversity is visible in all the different real estate options available to us. We could say there’s a dream home in Dayton for everyone.
She called one late-winter afternoon.
“I got your name from Miami Valley Fair Housing. Can you help me with a short sale?”
A short sale occurs when a bank agrees to accept less on the sale of a home, than is actually owed. In other words, the bank is going to come up short on this sale, thus “short sale”. Typically the owner finds themselves unable to pay back the mortgage and instead of waiting to be foreclosed on, they negotiate with the bank to enter into a short sale. It looks better on your credit rating than a foreclosure, so it might be in the owner’s best interest to discuss the possibility with their mortgage lender, but it can be a long and difficult process. As Realtors often joke- Short sales are anything but.
Outside my office window, the snow was that lovely shade of Sludge Gray that defines old snow, and the sky was that lovely shade of Cloudy Gray that defines sunless Dayton winters. I was taking notes as she started telling me her story. Single mother, job loss, working part time, going back to school- she was doing everything “right”, but she was still going to lose her home- her dream home.
Now, Realtors know that your dream home is going to be completely different from your brother’s dream home, which is not at all like your best friend’s dream home. We are each unique, and we are each entitled to have our own unique dreams. She was living in a brand new home, in a brand new subdivision. Tract home, yes, but for her, a new home was a dream, and she was going to lose her dream home, in the middle of a gray Dayton winter. Deep breath. Okay.
I went out to the new home in the new subdivision in Trotwood. I was paying close attention to the neighborhood, and the exterior condition of the home. Modest homes, and only a few years old, but you’d be surprised how quickly a little neglect can lead to big problems. I was relieved to see that this home looked great on the outside. She loved her home and it showed- curb appeal always helps, but especially in winter.
The interior was just as lovely- more so actually, with nice decorative touches here and there, and still as clean as a model home. She loved this place, it was obvious, and she told me how happy she was to have purchased a new home in a new neighborhood for her and her son. This was a lovely place to call her own, but she lost her job, and her part time job wasn’t paying nearly enough, so we started the short sale process. Because of her love and care, we were going to be able to list this at nearly full price.
Before a bank agrees to a short sale, they want to make sure that they cannot recoup the full amount owed on the loan. The seller has to fill out forms and statements, and send specific information of proof that their financial situation has changed. If you’ve ever applied for a home loan, you know how extensive that process is. A short sale is no different. You might think of it as un-applying for the loan. It took a few weeks to gather all the documents and make contact with the loss mitigation officer who would be taking over her loan, and get all the forms her lender needed.
Like foreclosures, short sales can be an emotionally painful time, and Realtors try to make this process as smooth as possible. We are not only dealing with the bank on our client’s behalf, we are sometimes a shoulder to cry on. Occasionally a seller will just give up and let the home go, become uncooperative and uncommunicative, but this seller loved this home and wanted to do whatever she could to keep her dream home, so during this time of un-applying for the loan, she kept working, going to school, taking care of her son and her household.
Just a few days before we were ready to officially list the property in the MLS, I got a phone call. “Teri, I wanted to let you know that I’m so grateful for all your help, but I was just offered a new position at work, and I’ll be able to make my mortgage payments now!”
As you gather with loved ones this week, you might drive past a suburban Dayton subdivision and wonder why anyone would want to live there. You might look around at the people you know so well and think about their homes. A modest tract home, a large McMansion, an historic fixer, a garden condo- any one of these might be the furthest thing from your dream home. But take a moment to be thankful for what I know- that every home, regardless of how modest or extravagant, new or old, each home holds the unique dreams of the remarkable dreamers within, and in that regard, we are all the same.