Short-Sale Datapoint of the Day

Includes: BAC, KBE, KME, KRE, MS
by: Felix Salmon

How long does it take to complete a short sale? If you have a prime loan from GMAC, it takes a full six months: painful. But what’s much worse is that GMAC is by far the fastest mortgage servicer of the lot: prime loans from Countrywide (NYSE:BAC) take, on average, 13 months. Subprime loans from Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE:MS) Saxon unit are even worse, at 17 months. And then there’s the subprime loans from Equicredit and Ocwen, which take a mind-boggling 29 months to go through, on average.

Jorge Newberry has some common-sense ideas about how to speed things up a bit, but the fact is that these servicers have demonstrated their inability to do their jobs multiple times over the past few years: they’re simply overloaded. Too few staff, with too few qualifications, are trying to do too many things at once.

The result is predictably depressing: more foreclosures, less money for servicers, more distressed sales, more empty homes, lower house prices. Treasury has done nothing to alter this situation to date, and neither has Congress. So expect more of the same going forward, for years and years to come.