Heather gave you a few good points.
I wrote a short blog on how to get approval for a short sale just a few days ago. You might find it interesting:
I hope it helps.
Heathers answer is "spot on". They take months to come to a decision and once a decision is made to proceed the buyer must be ready willing and able to close very quickly. The lien holders are so backed up that it's very difficult to even get to speak to the person assigned to the transaction in order get updates. If you are seriously looking to go down this route patience is a virtue that may be well tested by everyone involved.
As a buyer please also understand that the agent you work with is also a bit "stressed". First, they are working for you and feel the stress over the the dynamics that surround your situation, be it kids going into a new school system, your lease expiration and timing of a move or trying to juggle a closing on your existing home with a closing on a new short sale home. On a personal basis, they are also feeling the stress of being a potential lien holder for their Real estate fee (commission) and needing to make sure that they actually get paid a reasonable amount if at all from the sellers side, in the transaction. The agent's commission is not 100% secure at the contracted rate.
Moral to the story...there are some great values as a buyer, there are some sad stories and emotions from the seller, there are long periods of silence...stay patient and be kind to your agent. They share your stress too.
Based upon your timing needs and financial situation, there is inventory out there that is also value priced that may not have the added baggage of a short sale. I wish you well.
New Hope/Lambertville Regional Center
A short sale is when the seller owes more on the home than it is currently being sold for. In this type of transaction the contract must be approved by the lender(s) before it can be sold.
It is sold strictly as is
Buyer Responsible for any repairs and township certifications
Buyer could potentially be responsible for any liens on the property
The bank usually takes a LONG time to approve the contract (months upon months sometimes) and then they could say NO. If there is more than 1 mortgage on the house than the time could be even longer.
Could get a good deal but in this market many sellers are offering good deals, it doesn't have to be a short sale.
I have successfully closed short sales in the past but it is a time consuming and stressful transaction. Let me know if you have any other questions.