Working full time on a 100 percent commission basis is not for wimps. The cost of health insurance alone is enough to send most sane people screaming into the night.

I can do it, and have survived the crash of the housing market, yet there are still times when some of the big banks make me want to cry.

Selling foreclosures really isn’t a big deal and in most cases it goes smoothly. I occasionally run into trouble getting utilities turned on for inspections, but I can usually get it worked out with a few phone calls and some deep cleansing breaths, as needed.

It is the short sales that are the killer. Right now there are about 2,000 homes on the market in the Twin Cities area, and there are offers on some of them that are waiting for third-party approval — bank approval. Many of those sales will fall through because the buyer will give up, move on or die of old age waiting for an answer.

In some cases, the home will go into foreclosure before an offer is approved. Agents do not get paid if there is no sale. There’s nothing like working for free.

I would avoid short sales altogether if I could, but hard as I try I get dragged into them — usually because a friend, family member or a neighbor needs help. I have never recommended a short sale because they are rarely in the best interest of my clients.

There is a really huge bank — let’s just say it is one of the banks that our tax dollars were used to bail out — and it seems to own about half of the properties in town.

The bank put together a program to fast-track short sales — they now "only" take five to 16 weeks — but I don’t think we are supposed to share that information with consumers.

In fact, I think that was in the fine print of a document I read yesterday. For a huge corporation, five weeks must seem fast to the point of being reckless.

Here is an example of how the bank operates, and why it can make me cry if I let it:  The bank required my client to fill out and sign an authorization form so that the bank has my client’s permission to talk to me. That form is standard procedure.

My client signed it and sent it back to the bank. Two days later the bank requested that I send a copy of the same document. Of course, the bank already had a copy and I did not, leading me to contact my client to send me a copy of it so that I can send it back to the bank.

And then the bank told me that the form is overdue, and if I don’t hurry the file will be closed.

The bank has an automated system that agents must use. It is not at all user-friendly, and sometimes I get email messages alerting me to check the messages in the system.

There are red letters on the screen with warnings, and many colors and words. And way up in the corner, in a tiny font, the screen states that there are two tasks I must complete.

It isn’t enough to upload the file into the system — it has got be submitted now or very soon, and failure to fill out a field that has a red mark by it creates all kinds of red warning messages on the screen. It is not at all unusual to have to send the exact same documents each day as they are requested all over again.

This is not what I left corporate America and a very affordable group health insurance policy for, and don’t tell me I need short-sale certification.

I have to follow the rules for my client. After dealing with these short-sale programs I am positive that I would never do business with any of the banks involved. I would never go to them for a mortgage, or send a client to them or open a checking account.

I know there are many different branches and departments, but I am not that open-minded about it. I don’t accept the "other" department or subcontractor excuse. I see a big brand with a big logo. The brand is only as good as the worst employee of whichever company it contracts with to deal with people like me and my client.

The people who sell real estate who are reading this probably know which bank or banks I am writing about, and if I mentioned them in a roomful of agents you would hear a groan.

I have witnessed many rants about these institutions over the past few years and I hope they do lose business because of how inefficiently they operate. They remind me of how depressing it can be to work inside of a huge, heartless, bureaucratic corporation.

There has to be a better way. There should not be 2,000 homes in my community with offers on them waiting for approval. Those homes need to be sold, and the process could easily be streamlined.

They could start by taking out the automated systems that are in place to make the process more efficient. The best way for agents to deal with these behemoth corporations is to have a nice glass of wine with dinner. There is no reasoning with the short-sale machine.

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