Definitely have a professional inspection, but it is just to help you decide whether to proceed with the sale. The bank will make no repairs. However, when the price of the home is still a good deal even after all the extras that may come with the deal, then you are rewarded with a home at an excellent price. You should certainly use a Realtor to assist you with the nuances of the short sale purchase because they are usually even more complicated than other sales.
The short sales in our area are usually closing at or above the "asking price" though so be aware that you be sure that you know the real market value of the home you are considering buying and don't pay more than the home is worth. You can often buy other homes in the area at similar prices because they are trying to compete with the short sales. Happy home hunting!
There was a great article recently in the Wall Street Journal about this and about how 70% of short sales are not closing. I have also written a few articles about this as well at http://www.SantaBarbaraRealEstateVoice.com.
If you find your dream home, the price is right and the listing agent has experience in shorts sales, go for it! All the Best~
Having several short sales in escrow in Santa Maria at the moment and being on the buying end of successfully closed short sale escrows, I can assure that they are closing. Typically in this area due to the price point of these homes they are take anywhere from 45 to 60 days to close. The main draw back is having the patience to see it through and be prepared to take the home AS IS. Although AS IS sales are very common now and days anyway.
Unfortunatley, I've found too often agents are quick to tell horror stories, give false stats or tell you about the anomaly taking 6 months to close. Most agents have had crazier transactions in traditional sales. If you can afford to have a 60 day escrow to get an awesome deal then a Short Sale might be for you.
Are you currently working with a REALTOR? If not, check out my website or call me direct to discuss any more questions you may have on Santa Maria Short Sales.
If you have time to wait, then go for a short sale. The one my buyer is closing on this Friday took over 4 months!
Short sales definitely do close. They are not easy and usually quite frustrating, but it is very worthwhile. The reason - you can get a house below the market value. Once a house is foreclosed and sold by lender as REO - its price usually climbs back to the market value 9this assuming that prices do not continue falling).