Ask the seller who got into escrow with a buyer, taking the home off the market only to lose the buyer, didn't get to keep the deposit (bad or no agent advice), and missed the peak of the summer price trends. Ask the buyer who didn't receive the seller's disclosures (bad or no agent advice) and is now in a legal battle over non-disclosure issues. Each of these principals SHOULD have had a better agent to protect their interests before, during, and after the sale. In short, if you know real estate law, principles, and practices, you don't need an agent. Oh, and you better have E&O and liability insurance since you are taking on a licensed profession in your spare time.... more
Sean - not to sound like a broken record, but since you didn't mention in your question that you NEED to sell your home, what is the issue here? There are tens of thousands of borrowers in your situation, IN THIS AREA! Virtually everyone who purchased a home between mid '05 and the present, with little to no money down is underwater, a sobering fact related to the what might be considered the most difficult real estate market our area has seen. But the good news is that we're starting to see many signs that the bottom is near. However I want to mention that it could still be several years before you're able to sell your home without having to come out of pocket.
Having mentioned all this, there's a new alternative to the short sale, called the short refi, that is just starting to crop up. One of my associates completed one of these a few weeks ago. It's similiar to a short sale, the main difference being the house is sold back to the same owner, using today's current value. You still have to qualify for the new loan, and this loan is based on a much lowered value, so most likely your payment will go down (unless you're in a pay option ARM loan)..
Call me if you'd like to see if you're eligible for this process!