By Mike Colpitts
A small real estate brokerage is waging a war against foreclosures, helping thousands of homeowners’ monthly by training real estate agents to coordinate short sales and get troubled homeowners out of their problem plagued mortgages.
“We’ve directly assisted tens of thousands of homeowners,” said First Coast Realty Associates broker Mike Linkenauger. “We help thousands of them a month through agents all over the country.”
Based in Jacksonville, Florida Linkenauger’s small 16-person office is the center of operations for what has developed into a major hub that spans over all 50 U.S. states and is associated with more than 6,000 real estate agents. Associates undergo a thorough training process and are schooled on step-by-step procedures on how to pre-qualify, list, sell, negotiate and close short sales.
As the nation’s foreclosure crisis broadens, already topping 7 million homeowners and forecast to top a total of 15 million, Linkeanger’s office represents a ray of sunshine for homeowners hoping to short sell their homes instead of go through a painstaking foreclosure. Short sales are conducted with the lender’s approval to sell for less than what is owed on a mortgage, and are experiencing an upsurge in volume as the real estate crisis turns five years old this spring.
Part of President Barack Obama’s Making Home Affordable Plan is the short sale program, in which participants are rewarded with a cash incentive to short sell their home instead of undergo foreclosure. The program also limits the time a bank is allowed to respond to a short sale offer to purchase a home.
Industry studies indicate that more than 70% of delinquent borrowers are not involved in programs with lenders to work out any sort of compromise to either modify a mortgage or sell their home as a short sale. Linkeanger’s firm has started a new program called “Bridging the Gap” to connect homeowners in financial hardship with agents trained to assist them with a short sale.
“Bridging the Gap reaches out to these borrowers who would not seek assistance on their own, aiming to dramatically alter that disturbing statistic for the better,” said Linkenauger. Through the program, participating lenders send delinquent borrowers’ information on the Short Sale Specialist Network via a secure online portal. The network then assigns the referral to a local short sale agent who contacts the homeowner.
Mortgage holders who do not qualify for a loan modification, missed loan payments or are in default on a mortgage may be able to save their credit report from reflecting a lower score as a result of a shot sale. The brokerage is only paid when a short sale is completed in a referral arrangement with agents it works with.