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Selling Homes The Short-er Way

An interesting email came into the Realty Check mailbox yesterday, an offer really.

Our company, 1-800-CashOffer, is a nationwide network of professional real estate investors. Our investors (including ourselves in our local market) help homeowners in financial trouble by providing them with a quick way to sell their homes for cash, often avoiding foreclosure and the associated damage to their credit rating. One solution that is increasingly used is the "short sale" whereby our investors negotiate with lenders to help homeowners get out of unwanted properties and situations. In addition, homeowners that work with our organization can be assured that they are dealing with ethical professionals, rather than amateurs or scam artists.”

Intriguing. I dialed the free number.

Nice Lady: If you are ready to get a cash offer for your home, press 1 now, if you would like to hear a brief recorded message about 1-800-CashOffer, press 2 now.

Me: I went for #2.

Nice Lady: We buy houses in any condition or situation. We can make a quick cash offer on your house usually within 24 hours of evaluating it. There are no commissions, no fees and no need to make repair. We will pay closing costs and take care of any liens.

Me: I decided to call Dev Horn, VP of 1-800-CashOffer.

Mr. Horn told me the company has been around for about 5 years, also under the name: www.fasthomeoffers.com. I get the premise. You need to sell your home fast, they set you up with an investor who is going to offer you a lot less cash than you might get on the open market, but they’re going to do it hassle-free, fee-free and all cash.

So I’m wondering, in today’s sagging housing market, is this pretty risky for the investor? Sure, they’re getting the house for a song, but selling it for even a small profit is going to be a whole lot harder now than it was in the boom times.

“It’s a more challenging market,” Horn admits. “There’s risk involved.” But Horn also claims the company is seeing far more deals this year than ever before. That’s because mortgage defaults are surging. But what about all those home owners who put no money down, who have no actual equity in the house? Well, have no fear, says Horn, the banks are now actually going after the short sell, preferring that over foreclosure.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in the willingness and the number of short sells because lenders don’t want to own houses. They have their models as well, they calculate the cost for them to hold the property, the potential decline in value,” says Horn. Bottom line, the short sell is better.

Horn claims they had 65,000 “leads” last year, that is home owners seeking their help. This year they’re on track for 80,000.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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