Lenders say they are stepping up their efforts to handle short sales. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has doubled the number of employees handling such sales, while Bank of America Corp. recently began allowing real-estate agents to submit short-sale documents online, reducing the chance a sale will be stalled. At Wells Fargo & Co., efforts to speed up short sales helped produce a 145% increase in these transactions in August compared with the same month a year earlier, the bank says. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors and other groups have recently launched short-sale and foreclosure certification programs for agents.
The U.S. Treasury Department is expected to issue streamlined guidelines to lenders on short sales soon. Housing-industry leaders say complicated procedures are hindering them from clearing the large inventory of distressed property necessary to return the housing market to normal. Now, only about 20% or so of short sales are successful