The Short Sale “BPO” Quandary!

Posted on 16. Feb, 2011 by ctlms in Foreclosures, My Blog, News, Real Estate, Short Sale, foreclosure

With every short sale there is a BPO or appraisal.

These 2 "opinions" of value are not created equal.

So what is a BPO?

BPO stands for Broker's Price Opinion.  It is much like a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) that an agent would do to help a seller determine their list price.

However, a BPO is done on the lender's own form and the lender dictates how it is done.  Unlike an appraisal that is done to specific standards that all appraisers must follow.

BPO requirements can often dictate that the agent must use certain kinds of comps, can't use other kinds of comps, and can or cannot make certain adjustments.  These limitations often can cause the value estimate to not match what a real world buyer is actually willing to pay for the property.

So why do lenders do BPOs instead of appraisals?

Easy....Money.  BPOs are less expensive to order and the lender can make the above mentioned restrictions on how the value is derived.

FHA and VA loans must order FHA and VA certified appraisals and cannot order BPOs.

But most other short sales end up with a BPO and not an appraisal.

Whether it be a BPO or appraisal, the value typically goes through some sort of audit when it gets to the lender.  This entails the comparison of that report with a desktop valuation and possibly a review of online comps.  Obviously this is done by someone that has not seen the property in person.  This process can also result in an inflated value.

So what can we do to avoid these inflated values killing our short sales?

The BPO is the most important part of the short sale.  We can do everything else 100% to the best it can be done and the BPO can still kill it.

So what do we do?

Firstly, the BPO agent cannot be allowed to just go to the property alone with no contact from the listing agent.  Who knows more about this property than the listing agent?  No one!

There are certain pieces of information that we want to make sure the BPO agent has access to to make their job easier and to make sure the take them into account.

1. The offer

2. The listing history

3. Relevant comps

4. Repairs

5. Showing feedback

We want the BPO agent to know that the property is a short sale.  They may think it is an REO.

We want them to see what prices the property did not already sell at.  If the property has already been on the open market and on the MLS at a price and did not bring offers, then the buyers out there today are not willing to pay that price for it.  And what is market value anyway?  It is what a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay.  So this should be the most important information available as to what the current market value is NOT.  Of course, not everyone agrees with me on that point.

We also want the BPO agent to know what the current offer is.  If the property was marketed for say. $100k then $90k and then $80k before getting an offer of $75k, wouldn't you think the current value is probably somewhere between $80-75k?  If it were more then why no offers before now?

It is a good idea to do your own comp research and supply that to the agent as well.  For all you know that agent is doing 10 BPOs today and has very little time to research comps.  Make sure they have as much info and have to do as little work on their own, in case they don't have time to do it.  Don't assume that someone else will care as much about this deal and your clients as you do.

Repairs.  This is a tough one.  If there are issues with the house that will make its value different then the comps available, we need to know how much that is worth.  This can be the hardest part.  BPO agents and Realtors in general are not well trained on estimating repairs.  Often buyers are not willing to do the leg work to get repair estimates either.  So this can be a tough thing to estimate.  But at a minimum we want a list of what is wrong so the BPO agent knows about it.  This is another reason why having the home inspection done before submitting a short sale offer can be very helpful.  Supplying the BPO agent with the deficiencies found in the inspection is great information.

So what happens when we do this and the BPO still comes in way above all reasonable offers?

We use all of the above mentioned information, and more, to dispute the value with the lender. Make no mistake, this is much harder to do than if the value had come in accurate to begin with.  But it is our last shot at saving the deal.

Some lenders will accept a well put together market analysis with photos, comps and a market description done by the agent to dispute the value.  I have had some very well put together packages done by the listing agent shave thousands of dollars off the lenders opinion of value.  Other lenders will only consider the buyer's lender's appraisal.  This creates another challenge where the buyer, or someone, has to be willing to pay for the appraisal.  And the lender wants the buyer's lender's appraisal, not just some appraisal that the buyer paid for directly.  They want to know it was as unbiased as possible.

So what else can we do?

Aside from the above mentioned items, there is one other thing the listing agent can and should do when time allows.  That is to set a marketing history.

How to set a marketing history.  As mentioned above, we want as much ammunition as possible to justify the offer as being current market value.  One of those pieces of information is the marketing history of the property.

If the property was listed at a "fire sale" price and received a full price offer the very first week, what do you think the first thing is that the lender will think? "You could have gotten more money."

We want to e able to show with the marketing history that we were NOT able to get more money or a higher offer.

No my usual rule of thumb is to start the listing about 10% higher than where you think it needs to be to get an offer.  Give it 3-5 weeks then lower it half way to that price.  Give it another 2-3 weeks then lower into that range you believe it needs to be in to get an offer.  If after another 2 weeks there are still no offers, continue to lower it.  Now this is different depending on the price range.  Higher value properties typically don't need to start a full 10% high, but this is just a rule of thumb.

This strategy helps to establish that the property could not sell for a higher price and, if we are fortunate, the offer that comes in will be relatively close to the listing price at the time.  This is also important as most BPOs do not come in lower than the price the property is listed at at the time the BPO is done.

In conclusion, never underestimate the importance of the BPO or appraisal that is done for a short sale.  That one piece of the puzzle can make or break your chances of helping your client.

Sean Wilder

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4 Responses to “The Short Sale “BPO” Quandary!”

  1. Peter Benson 19 March 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Sean,

    I just found your blog and it mirrors my sentiments exactly. What is a BPO but an assessment of fair market value? And what better information for a BPO than a listing history that demonstrates appropriate reductions and days on market, until receiving the first offer, to point directly to a reasonable assessment of fair market value?

    Assuming a property is listed and sits on the market for at least the average DOM for that locale with incremental price reductions and then gets its first offer, that first offer is likely something near the fair market value.

    Now there are a few assumptions here:

    1) No fraud from the listing agent whereby offers are ignored.

    2) Reasonable reductions (5-10% reductions over 14 days to 1 month)

    3) Sufficient days on the MLS to allow full exposure to the market. I would think that 60-90 days would be sufficient, but the longer the better. Your concept of starting 10% above what you perceive to be fair market value based on your CMA is a good one. If your first offer comes within a week of listing, it will be nearly impossible to argue that the property was not underpriced.

    While a CMA can give you an idea what a "similar" property would command based on sq ft, location, etc. There is NO BETTER way to assess fair market value of a given property than the listing history of that property, as it is a direct indicator of what the market will pay for that property.

    You mentioned that "not everyone agrees with you" on this concept. I would be interested in how someone could argue against the validity of this approach.

    Regards,
    Peter

    • ctlms 19 March 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Hi Peter, thanks for the comment. To answer your question regarding who often disagrees with us on value even when the market has clearly stated their opinion based on the listing history. It is of course the banks. They do not accept listing history as a basis to dispute their value. If their value comes back to them somehow inflated, which is all too common, you need either sold comps or an appraisal to dispute it. Unfortunately sold comps are not always available, especially in a slow market, and often there is no one willing to pay for the appraisal. So it is just all that more important that the listing agent supply the BPO agent with as much relevant data as possible when the value is first estimated for the bank. That includes the before mentioned listing history. There is a much better chance of success if the bank has a realistic value to begin with.

  2. eml 20 September 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I am in a short sale as the Buyer and I made an offer for $335,000 on a home that was listed at $399,000. The Seller owes $500,000 on the house (they bought for $120K in 1997.
    The Seller accepted $335,000 and presented this to the Short Sale Bank.
    The BPO came back from the Short Sale Lender as $396,000 and they never even visited the house! All on line.
    The real house comps in the area averaged $375,000. I had an inspection done and it needs a fair amount of work.
    It's been on the market for 11 months and I am the only offer (the other retracted).
    Should I pay the $350 to get an real appraisal done where someone actually goes on-site?
    I am the only offer so I don't want to end up bidding against myself.

    • ctlms 20 September 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      If I were negotiating that short sale I would be asking the bank to order an interior valuation. Typically that is a BPO or Broker's Price Opinion which is done by a real estate agent. But sometimes the banks do order an actual appraisal. 99% of the time the bank does this anyway.

      The only lender I have seen commonly not do that is US Bank on loans they own themselves.

      Now if they still refuse I would be asking them if they can review an appraisal if it shows the banks price to be inaccurate. If they say they can review one to consider lowering their internal value, then it is your choice if you are willing to pay for one. If you are ordering your own appraisal, consider having your lender (assuming you are not paying cash) order the appraisal they will need for your financing. This appraisal will state right on it that it was ordered by the lender and the short sale bank will know there is less of a chance that the value was influences, VS the possibility that you just got a friend that was an appraiser to do it for you.

      If the bank orders their own value, someone will want to meet that person at the house and show them the comps and any inspection issues that affect the value so they can take that info into account when determining the value for the bank. Good luck.