Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fannie Mae appears to be more 'reasonable'

Fannie Mae appears to be more 'reasonable'

I like to be the bearer of good news. This week, I have two examples.

The first one is a follow-up to columns I wrote in this space in January and February after hearing from would-be homebuyers, Realtors and others who said that Fannie Mae was blocking short sales by asking for tens of thousands of dollars above appraised value for the homes they control.

Basically, this government-sponsored enterprise that backs millions of mortgages across the country seemed to be holding back home sales.

Most of the complaints I heard were from potential buyers who needed financing, rather than paying cash, to purchase a property previously financed by a Fannie Mae loan.

The issue usually involved short sales, which occur when a lender agrees to sell a property for less than what the borrower owes on the mortgage.

Of course, short sales have become a big part of our housing market here in Southern Nevada, where the housing supply is very tight and short sales now account for about one in every three existing home sales.

Short sales can be complicated enough without having someone reject a buyer’s offer late in the game.

Just ask reader Dylan Budd, who wrote: “The Q&A article in (the Jan. 12) paper describes our situation closely. We are first-time homebuyers who tried to purchase a Fannie Mae short sale, but are in limbo because they came back and asked for $55,000 above the appraised value of $195,000. Our situation is different because we made a cash offer, which your article suggests may be their preference (but did not prevent them from coming back with a ridiculous price). We can only infer that they simply do not want to sell at fair market value. Hopefully, the GLVAR advocacy on the issue will pressure Fannie Mae to be more reasonable ...”

Leaders of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors have been contacting Fannie Mae officials and government leaders, urging Fannie Mae to get back to accepting reasonable offers.

These efforts seem to be paying off.

In recent weeks, I’ve heard reports that Fannie Mae has been more reasonable in accepting offers.

In addition, Fannie Mae recently launched a website designed to help real estate agents and others through this process, to better review appraised values and to hopefully save agents and buyers time and trouble when trying buy a short-sale property.

For more information, visit www.

My second bit of good news is about the return of the “traditional” home sale, where the seller is an actual homeowner, not a lender.

Just when we were beginning to think this type of transaction was an endangered species here in Southern Nevada, we’ve seen a gradual rebound this year. In fact, so far in 2013, more than half of all sales reported by GLVAR have been the traditional variety.

In March, 33.3 percent of all local existing-home sales were short sales. Another 11.2 percent of all local home sales were bank-owned properties. The remaining 55.5 percent of March sales were the traditional type.

This wasn’t the case in past years, when our market was dominated by foreclosures and short sales and the lives of Realtors were dominated by dealing with banks that controlled most of the properties we were trying to buy and sell.

This return of traditional sellers is encouraging news. I hope it’s a sign that more homeowners who’ve been considering a move are seeing today’s rising home prices and listing their homes for sale.

As any prospective buyer can tell you, we could use more homes on the market.

Dave Tina is the 2013 president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and has worked in the real estate industry for more than 35 years. GLVAR has more than 11,000 members. Email questions to For more information, visit