Homeowner endures long short-sale process

Name: Matt O’Connor

The home: A four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home built in 1999

Where: Acworth

Why he sold: When O’Connor remarried, he decided to sell the home he had purchased in 2006. “She bought her house about the same time I had bought mine. Both houses were still underwater. We had to make a decision on where to go,” he said. They decided to move into his new wife’s home. O’Connor considered renting out his home, but opted for a short sale in April 2014.

“When I took full responsibility for the house at the time of the divorce, my intention was to stay. I was figuring I would be in there long enough that the market would come back. I was pleasantly surprised to meet somebody sooner than I thought,” he said. “It was a difficult decision to make. But when you can’t afford two mortgages … you really don’t have any options; a short sale is better than a foreclosure.”

Time on market: 235 days

Original price: $175,000

Sale price: $180,000

What it took

The two-story home’s location near I-75 and I-575 attracted buyers. The Cobb County house generated immediate interest and offers, even after disclosing defects such as a collapsed retaining wall. The first offer was a buyer moving from Jamaica, but the short sale process took too long. The home ended up selling to an investor who was willing to pay cash and wait for the closing to finally happen in May 2015, O’Connor said.

“Some of it was absolutely maddening. It’s where all your family memories are. When you’re finally ready to let it go, you want to move forward,” said O’Connor, who works in public relations. “But to people working in government and in the banks, it’s just another transaction. They don’t have that personal connection to it.”

Potential stumbling block

The home, near a creek, had a collapsed retaining wall from the 2009 floods. The defect was not insurable because the retaining wall was not built to code, and it would cost at least $25,000 to repair, he said. Interested investors and contractors thought they could fix the wall, but ultimately decided not make an offer. Ignoring the added cost needed to repair the retaining wall, Fannie Mae valued the home above market value and denied multiple offers, said his agent, Angie Hays of Keller Williams Realty Partners. Even though property values were improving in the neighborhood, his property was still lagging in value due to the collapsed wall, she said.

Finally, the investor’s cash offer was approved. O’Connor credits his agent for understanding the process, knowing how to work with lenders and closing agents and keeping him in the loop. “If it was not for Angie, I would have given up,” he said.

Seller’s hint

If your agent suggests using a professional stager, say yes. “It was a beautiful house before, but they really made a huge impact on that home,” O’Connor said.

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