Throughout the past year, C.A.R. has been in talks with NationStar about a program it has incorporated into its business model which requires most of its properties to be listed on auction.com before a short sale is finalized. C.A.R. and members of its Board of Directors have spoken with the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) about NationStar’s business model, and the BRE has informed C.A.R. that the program does not violate any laws.
C.A.R. has confirmed that Nationstar will continue to use auction.com as a value verification system on many of its short sales. Real estate agents who list short sale properties from NationStar will list the properties on the MLS just as they would with any other short sale.
Through this program, once the listing receives an accepted offer, NationStar informs the agent that the property will be posted on auction.com for three weeks, as a means to verify that the loan investor has received the best price.
During the auction, the original offer will remain valid as long as the buyer along with the buyer’s agent have registered with NationStar and auction.com. The listing agent for the property may be able to assist with the registration process.
During its numerous discussions with NationStar, C.A.R. has learned that auction.com tends to list the starting bid significantly lower than the amount offered by the original buyer to encourage bidders. Agents working with clients on these transactions should inform their clients of this practice.
Once the property is listed on auction.com, other bids also will be considered. If a bid comes in higher than the original offer, the original buyer will lose the property unless he or she places a higher bid on auction.com. Although auction.com charges a 5 percent buyer fee to the highest bidder, the original buyer is exempt from this fee, if the buyer is registered as the initially accepted offer from the seller.
A buyer using an FHA or VA loan normally will not be able to participate in an auction as FHA and VA generally prohibit a buyer from paying a buyer’s premium in the amount required by auction.com. However, if the FHA or VA buyer is the first accepted offer, and they register with NationStar and auction.com, the buyer fee is waived and therefore, the buyer should be able to participate in the auction process. A buyer should confirm this with his or her lender prior to making an offer on a property in this program.
According to Nationstar, if the seller is in default on the loan the foreclosure process may still begin or continue while the property is in Nationstar’s “market validation program.” However, the foreclosure date will be suspended until the property is sold in an approved sale or otherwise removed from the program.
C.A.R. is advising agents who choose to take listings which have Nationstar as a servicer to contact NationStar as soon as the listing is taken. Contacting the servicer at an early stage is good practice in any short sale transaction, but is especially important in this situation. This will enable all parties to determine if the property will be listed on auction.com and whether buyers’ agents should be notified accordingly and whether appropriate language should be inserted in offers or counteroffers.
To date, NationStar has not changed anything stated in the MLS with regards to agent commissions, unless it does not meet the requirements of the loan investor. However, this could change based on servicer guidelines.
REALTORS® should also be aware that Nationstar’s market validation program requires both the listing agent and seller to sign documents which could impact their legal rights. REALTORS® should advise their clients to seek legal counsel to interpret any clauses in such agreement that may raise concerns as to possible costs or risks to sellers for participating in the process.
C.A.R. will continue discussions with NationStar about its program and keep members informed as new information is made available.