Altisource and Hubzu.com
I wanted to comment on a recent transaction I had with HUBZU.com, a real estate website that is used by a company named Altisource, which purports to be in Atlanta, and who represents bank owned real estate properties as a listing agent“in every state except Nebraska” (according to the website).
First a little background. I have been a licensed real estate agent and Realtor for 10 years. I have some clients who wanted to move to the Denver area from New York. We found a place in the MLS that was listed by HUBZU for $899k, and we went to see it. Per the instructions in the MLS, we went to HUBZU to make an offer. The instructions were very easy to follow, and we placed an offer. We were a bit surprised to discover that our offer was posted on the internet as the highest bid. Altisource (who is who we were dealing with on the HUBZU website) countered our offer, and after a couple of rounds of this, Altisource accepted one of our counters at about $810k.
We then had to complete the “real” paperwork. Their contract was different than a CREC (Colorado Real Estate Commission) contract, but wasn't difficult to get through. Unlike the CREC contract, there was no contingency for HOA documents. (The listing in the MLS that was written by the listing agent stated that there was no HOA.) There was an HOA and if my clients had not liked the financial condition of the HOA or the rules and regulations of the HOA, they would have had to find another way to “kill the deal”. Still, they wanted to review the docs. I requested them from the listing agent.
It was at this point that I realized that we might be in for a bumpy ride. The listing agent would simply forward my request for the HOA docs to the Altisource HOA Team and he would cc me on the email to show me that he had done it. After about 4 emails, and a couple of angry phone calls, we finally got the docs.
In dealing with Altisource, it became apparent that everything was very bureaucratic and compartmentalized. There was a team for everything: HOA Docs, HUD-1 completion, closing scheduling, closing coordination, pre-closing, post closing, disbursements etc. etc. And they were not in Atlanta, they were all in India. In addition to the obvious language barrier, they also seemed to be incredibly overworked. If you talked with someone twice in the same day, you had to start from the beginning with the file number which they entered into their computer. They had no memory of talking with you earlier in the day. Sometimes you would work with a “team” for only a day until they passed you off down (up?) the line. In all, I think that we worked with 14 different people at Altisource. Normally I work with one, or sometimes as many as two people at a title company in order to complete a closing.
Bank of America (the lender) had unbelievable problems getting the HUD-1 completed with Altisource. B of A had final loan approval 7 days before our scheduled closing date of Tuesday March 24, 2015. Unbelievably, the HUD-1 couldn't be prepared by Altisource in that time! My clients finally signed all paperwork in New York on Thursday March 26. Due to a problem with the deed of trust (mortgage) that may have been the fault of the bank, that had to be resigned, which wasn't done until Tuesday March 31. On Thursday April 2, I received an email saying that all funding had been received and disbursements would be made. (Apparently they have a few people working in Atlanta.) My brokerage was to receive their check by UPS overnight, so I expected it Friday. When it didn't show up Monday, I called Tuesday and was told “So sorry, we are short staffed, and will get that right out”. It was FedEx'ed and showed up Wednesday April 8th, 2015.
This has been hands down, and by a wide margin, the most difficult closing I have ever done. And it was all because of the way that Altisource is structured. At least one employee of Altisource volunteered that he wished that they would change the flow of paperwork within the company.
I do want to make a couple of final points. At no time did I think that there was anything hinky going on, nor did I think that Altisource was trying to rip off my clients or myself. However, all things being equal, I would prefer to work with anyone other than them. But if the deal for the client was good enough, I would go back into battle...
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Altisource and Hubzu.com