Realtors learning to counsel troubled homeowners

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -  A small, but growing group of Birmingham-area realtors are training to counsel distressed homeowners about how to unload their house without going into foreclosure.

The certification as a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) makes these realtors as much of a life counselor as a realtor. The help they provide troubled homeowners may also help rescue their industry.

Realtor and CDPE, Jeffrey Klinner, sells homes priced from $50,000 to $5 million. He says it doesn't matter which neighborhood you're in, some of your neighbors are in trouble.

"If you walk down the street and you count 7 houses, one of those houses is in distress," Klinner says.

"We cut prices 6 times trying to find that sweet spot where a buyer would actually pay us what we wanted," said Carl Haynie, who wants to sell his Homewood residence.

Haynie was never a distressed homeowner because he and his wife had enough equity in their house to be flexible on price. But iwhat if you're trying to sell, but you don't have any established equity?

"Good luck," Haynie said. "I mean, when you don't have the wiggle room that we had, and I'm grateful we had it, you just have to cut your cost."

Klinner said, "I've seen homeowners go home and literally go to bed for 6 months because they don't know what to do, they didn't know which direction to take."

That's where CDPE's like Klinner come in.

"I am hired by the homeowner to help facilitate this to the point of getting this off their books. ...to get them to a point where they no longer are in danger of losing the house or prevent foreclosure."

If you qualify, CDPE's can help turn a possible foreclosure into a short sale.

Klinner says the counseling isn't just psychological help for families in trouble, it's a lifeline to the real estate market as a whole.

"This is a national problem and if we don't address this as professionals. We're going to see a further decline in our market and the banks are aware of this. So it's a goal for the entire country to help everyone."

If you're a distressed homeowner and think you may qualify for help from a CDPE, you can check out Klinner's website for help and contacts.

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