History in the making

History in the making

Short sales make owning a home a reality for many

By Joanna Beresford 06/26/2008

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Last week’s CMA Report listed 20 single-family residences available as short pay properties in the city of Pasadena, more commonly referred to as short sales. Offered at prices ranging from $279,000 to $869,000, most of those homes have been on the market for about 100 days. The newest house on the list was built in 1984; most date from the first half of the last century, and the oldest place was constructed in 1886.

I visited the latter home recently, where I swear, when I put my hands on an original door frame and closed my eyes, I could almost hear the conversations and feel the vibrations of people who’ve passed through those rooms for the past 122 years. This was a slightly melancholy place. The previous owners have left behind neat piles of clothing, children’s toys, even family photos. I studied a picture of a mother and her two handsome boys for a while. They looked very proud and confident. Maybe they’re coming back for these belongings, or maybe they had to leave them behind.

Irina Netchaev, a broker with Keller Williams Realty, guided me through several short sale properties. She’s great at making lists and she offered me, at the outset of our tour, an overview of the short sale process in list format:

1.    Seller contacts a Realtor for help

2.    Seller completes a hardship package

3.    Short sale application along with hardship
       package is submitted to the bank (or banks) for review

4.    Bank reviews for completeness, orders valuation and assigns to a negotiator

5.    Negotiator begins the initial review and contacts Realtor and homeowner

6.    Property valuation performed according to investor guidelines

7.    Mortgage insurer and investor approval gained and additional liens negotiated by Realtor

8.    Application decision is made and a decision letter mailed.

This list applies to sellers, obviously. Potential buyers should consult a lender and determine what they are comfortable with paying for a home. Buyers can research the market to some extent on their own and then should contact a real estate professional who can help them find the perfect home.

Many agents don’t want to bother with short sale properties because, ironically, the process can be LONG and arduous, compared to a more conventional transaction. Netchaev considers it an obligation to present buyers and sellers with all options, so she’s become adept at negotiating the ins and outs of the short sale procedure.

“The first question I ask a potential seller is, ‘what are you trying to accomplish with this sale?’” says Irina. “And what helps me as the Realtor is education. So many of us aren’t trained properly, and I’ve found it invaluable to me and my clients that I’m familiar with trends, listings, timing, and aspects of the community.”

Here’s another list and this one I made up all by myself — Five Reasons Why I Admire
Irina Netchaev:

1.    She’s got the most delicious Russian accent

2.    She has a spiffy GPS system in her car

3.    She’s smart, honest and funny

4.    Her husband is a former Russian hockey player and mentor
       to hundreds of other athletes (not relevant, maybe, but interesting!)

5.    She’s pretty and extremely graceful

In 1886 (by the way, the year the oldest short sale house was built), Pasadena incorporated as a city. I’ve been told that the main reason residents sought incorporation was so they could get rid of the local saloon. In the next decade sewers, paved streets, and electric lighting were installed.

Educational facilities expanded, the Shakespeare Club and Grand Opera House opened, and the Pasadena Street railroad opened.

And here’s this house, redolent of all that history, that just needs a little love and refurbishment. The city of Pasadena, like every community, rides the thrilling roller coaster of good times and bad, but certain universal truths prevail: we all want to go home, and somewhere out there is a home for everyone.  

Joanna Dehn Beresford is a former teacher, nanny, actress, rock star, farm girl, waitress and clerk. She can be reached at truewrite@yahoo.com

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