'Doctor Short Sale' Featured in the Sarasota Herald Tribune!
'Doctor Short Sale' will see you now
By Josh Salman
Staff Photo / Dan Wagner
Published on Monday, June 9, 2014 at 1:00am for the Sarasota Herald Tribune
'DOCTOR' ERIC GREENSTEIN thinks he has found a cure for potentially hundreds of Southwest Florida residents' ills -- even though he lacks an advanced degree and avoids hospitals whenever possible.
Calling himself "Doctor Short Sale," the Sarasota real estate agent focuses on ways to remedy the housing market and heal the wounds of delinquent home loans that still threaten middle-class neighborhoods across Florida.
He thinks he's found it, too, in a formula that cuts the wait time associated with short sales for buyers and boosts bank approval rates.
"There's still struggling homeowners out there who need help," Greenstein said. "And short sales still attract buyers, who want a discounted property. ... We have a science that works. We might as well take that niche and run with it."
Greenstein is a Boston native whose background includes electrical engineering, professional recruiting and real estate investing. Six years ago, he didn't even know what a short sale was.
But when he moved to Southwest Florida in 2008, he used his experience flipping homes in the Northeast to pursue a real estate broker's license, venturing out on his own last year to open Apple Real Estate LLC. He now has three agents working for him and more than 70 percent of his business is short sales, a type of property transaction in which the bank agrees to sell a house for less than an owner owes on the mortgage.
Greenstein says his short-sale formula has a 90 percent lender approval rate and processes deals in an average of eight to 12 weeks rather than the six-month wait that has become the standard.
"Doctor Short Sale" averages about 20 listings at a time. Since opening his specialty brokerage in November, Greenstein has sold 40 properties at a median price of $146,500, with an average of 133 days to close, according to MLS statistics.
"I'm an engineer, so I tend to look at processes," Greenstein said from the kitchen of a two-bedroom listing on Tallevast Road in southern Manatee County. "Process is everything. I try to make it as easy as possible, looking at it through their eyes. As a business guy, that's my approach."
Short sales take longer than most traditional real estate transactions because banks typically don't present the amount they're willing to accept up front.
Instead, agents have to value properties, locate buyers, file offers with banks, and then wait sometimes months for a response before beginning negotiations.
Deals sometimes die even after that process because of inspection or walk-through issues.
Greenstein cuts out the front-end waiting with a pool of deep-pocketed investors, who file offers on Apple's listings at the outset, usually for about 65 percent of a home's retail value.
If he finds a buyer, he simply switches the name on the application. But by that point, he has all of the approval paperwork finished with the bank.
And if an interested buyer-resident never comes along, Greenstein's investors close the sale, rent out the house, or flip it.
The sellers don't care either way, because they're getting out from under the bad loan with a promise that no one will come after them for the difference between the short-sale price and the mortgage. Sometimes they're even offered several thousand dollars in relocation incentives.
"It short-circuits the process of a short sale -- and it works," Greenstein said.
Apple's launch comes at a time when many Realtors -- even those who branded themselves as foreclosure or short-sale specialists during the economic downturn -- are handling fewer short sales and concentrating more on securing traditional listings, thanks to an improved market.
Greenstein said that shift has helped kick more business his way.
Although most Florida markets saw a decline in short sales last year, the numbers have picked up again in Sarasota. Short sales represented 13.1 percent of all transactions in the county in April, up from 7.8 percent during the same time last year, according to industry researcher RealtyTrac Inc.
"Short sales are a reflection that there are more homeowners out there starting the foreclosure process in many Florida markets," said Daren Blomquist, a RealtyTrac vice president.
"That has caused a lot of homeowners to realize the clock is ticking now, and if I don't do a short sale, I'm going to lose the home to a foreclosure."