By Harvey S. Jacobs December 23, 2013

I’m a real estate agent with a client going through a short sale. The problem is with the second mortgage, which is with Bank of America.

 These sellers need to get this closed by Dec. 31 for the tax shelter. What can we do? – S.H.

When assisting clients with short sales, I advise them to initially assemble a complete short sale document package. The required short sale forms list can be found at Then as each month clicks away, update that file with current pay stubs, bank statements and other required documents. Ideally, just scan them into a file each month so that when the lender inevitable asks for them again, it is quick and easy to keep sending the documentation.

Since you mention Bank of America, you should be aware that on Dec. 16 they issued a Short Sale Agent Update. This update describes changes affecting the way Bank of America processes requests for loan modifications, deeds in lieu and short sales.

Bank of America will now assign a customer relationship manager (CRM) who will be the borrower’s single point of contact for document assembly and to discuss all potential loan relief options for that borrower. If the borrowers don’t receive their CRM contact information, they can contact Bank of America at 800-669-6650 to obtain the contact information for their specific CRM.

Financial document collection has also been streamlined. Previously, the borrower had to assemble and submit different document packages for each type of loan relief. The borrower can now submit one single package that includes all the information for all loss mitigation options, such as short sales, deeds in lieu of foreclosure and loan modifications.

Changes to the process now allow borrowers to have their file reviewed for all possible loan relief options without having to reapply. If it appears that the borrower is not eligible for a loan modification and, thus,  unable to stay in their home, a short sale file will be automatically opened. This should reduce the delays inherent in applying for loan relief options sequentially.

Bank of America has also pledged to improve customer communications. For example, following its completed file evaluation, officials will now provide borrowers with one notification that lists all the options and programs for which the borrower was evaluated. That notification will also provide the approval or denial decisions for all options and programs at one time. Conspicuously absent from Bank of America’s new communications procedures is its agreement to provide the reasons for the borrower’s approval or denial and any constructive steps the borrower can take to become eligible for loan relief.

Bank of America says it has established useful phone numbers and Web sites to escalate cases, such as the one you describe. First stage complaints should be addressed to its short sale customer care agent at 866-880-1232. If you receive no response within two business days, seek to escalate to a team leader by selecting option five at the above number. For more urgent problems such as to delay a foreclosure, you can try reaching an escalation team online at If you believe mortgage servicing standards have been violated, these issues can be reported to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at

Harvey S. Jacobs is a real estate lawyer with Jacobs & Associates Attorneys at Law in Rockville. He is an active real estate investor, developer, landlord, settlement attorney, lender and Realtor. This column is not legal advice and should not be acted upon without obtaining your own legal counsel. Contact Jacobs at (301) 417-4144, or