FORT MYERS, Fla--Troubled homeowners use it to get out of their mortgage without taking the hit on their credit. Investors use it to find a good property cheap and banks line up a buyer to take over a troubled asset. Short sales promise a win-win for everyone but WINK NEWS uncovers a problem threatening the deal and putting the recovery of our housing market at risk.
Both realtors and homeowners involved in these deals say banks are doing a poor job handling these deals--forgetting to tell clean up crews and sometimes even the court that they've sold these properties.
When Gene Weisensee bought his South Fort Myers home, he knew he was buying a project
"The pool was a total mess. It had slime 6 to 8 inches deep," described Weisensee.
All the headaches seemed worth it because he bought the property as a short sale for a great deal.
That's until he came home from work last week and found a stranger draining his pool.
"he says 'I was told this place was empty.' I says 'It's not empty. I am the owner. Who are you and why are you here?' He said basically 'I have a contract to empty your pool,'" said Weisensee.
The bank forgot to notify its cleanup contractors they had sold the home. The contractor told Gene the same thing happened at another home.
"He had a permit to clear some one's house. The gentleman owned the house and everything in it was his and he cleared everything out. The owner got a knife...they almost got him at the door. This is dangerous business," said Weisensee.
Realtors say it's something they've seen too.
"We've had where we've worked a short sale for six to eight months where we're trying to get a short sale closed. Then we find out it's up on the auction block or we've had to go to the courthouse and stop an auction because we're supposed to close the next day," said realtor Valerie Busic.
Busic worries potential buyers won't want to deal with the trouble.
"It's just frustrating to work through all of this. There's just a lot of uncharted territory," said Busic.
Realtors and homeowners tell WINK NEWS they don't understand why the banks don't have a centralized system where they can tell which homes have been sold and which ones haven't.