The reality of short sales is that their success or failure depends primarily on the listing agent, not the buyer's agent. So, the fact that your agent does not have a lot of experience in short sales is less critical, although not altogether irrelevant.
Let me first speak to "how you find a really good agent". Referrals from friends and family rank very high. Their personal experience with the agent will give them a feel for the persons style, negotiating skills, and effectiveness. "What questions should I be asking?" There are all sorts of buyer's sites on the internet that will list 10 or 20 questions you MUST ask every realtor. Google "questions to ask a realtor" and you will get more information than you want. THE REALITY IS, the best agent for you is the one that makes you feel comfortable and confident about the home buying process.
Especially when purchasing a home in a short sale situation, this is a long drawn out process that can take 60 to 120 days. You want a realtor who will let you know what is going on, helps you deal with the anxiety of 1st time homebuying, works with a great team of real estate professionals. has a list of lenders who specialize in 1st Time Homebuyers and knows about the programs available to help you get into your new home (down payment assistance, both government and non-profit; MCC; Section 203(k) rehab programs that ride on FHA loans, etc). I would be happy to give you more information. Just contact me through my profile.
Short sales and REO's (real estate that has gone through the foreclosure process and is now owned by the lender) can be great buys. Your realtor needs to know how to walk you through the process. One of the key points in being successful in purchasing Short Sale / REO properties is keep your offer simple. Don't ask for credits, repairs, long contigency periods, etc. Do be pre-approved for your loan, not just prequalified. Do be prepared to be patient and persistent. Do be prepared to move quickly once your offer is accepted. Don't be put off by the process, let your realtor handle that. Do buy a home you can be comfortable in for the next 2 - 5 years and Dare to Dream.
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty
You ask a very good question. You also have some excellent answers.
You need to put yourself in the shoes of the lenders. In most cases they are overwhelmed and are losing thousands if not millions of dollars, so they do not work in the best environment.
However, if you have time and patience, it may be worth it. Bear in mind that we are seeing depreciation problems. A buyer makes an offer, the offer is finally accepted, then the process seems to stop. There was one transaction where the sale was approved in March, they are still waiting for a manager to be assigned to the property. That is six months...and it's not either agents' fault.
The listing agent's ability to work with the lender is key. In most short sales I am aware of there are multiple offers and the listing agent hopes that at least one buyer is left when they close. And they are closing. In most offices a newer agent can ask questions of the most senior agent or broker, so don't let her inexperience stop you.
Enthusiasm, energy, and a passion to serve will overcome experience.
David Krecker, BSBA, SRA, MRA
Centuryside Real Estate Inc.
Broker/Owner/State License Appraiser
Serving the areas of Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino, and Riverside.
Franklin Farinas who responded is correct. Patience. An experienced Real Estate Agent can do a short sale weather they have done one or not. The information you read about people being "experienced" at short sales is just to get you to call them. All Calif Realtors have had enough meetings at their broker offices about short sales.
Stephanie, you know what a short sale is. Don't make it difficult. They are simple. your broker writes a purchase contract, submits it to listing broker and that broker submits it to the bank. DONE. NOW WAIT PATIENTLY. You can wait up to 6 months for a reply from that lender. And your reply will most likely come with a counter offer at a higher price. Or the home may be sold off at the trustee sale before you get a reply. Once the notice of default is filed a WHOLE NEW WORLD of laws kick in. There are contracts a purchaser signed and once the notice of trustee sale is filed the ball MUST roll according to the law. This means the home is going to be sold at the trustee sale, county court. The lender will most likely take the property back then put it on the market. You are probably better off watching the property then because it is easier to buy and no legal mumbo jumbo on a short sale. Property owners have all kinds of rights to keep claim to their properties and you do not want to get caught in the middle.
Another thing to consider is this...you write an offer on a short sale. you wait about 4 months, you get a counter offer that is ridiculous (yes the lenders want a bail out from a stupid buyer.) Now 4 months went buy, other homes you may have liked are sold off, interest rates went up one half point and now you are screwed with a higher interest rate and there went your savings. OH speaking of savings how much are you truly saving? There is a thing called TODAYS MARKET PRICE. How much are you saving over comparables? When REO go on the market they go at market price and maybe a little lower. If there is any home to be SAVED upon trust me there are a thousand other buyers in line competing with you and that drives the price right up. So unless the REO or short sale is in an area that is undesirable they will sit unsold. If you are writing an offer in a neighborhood that is plagued with short sales then a good idea is to stay out of that area and let all those short sales get foreclosed upon and watch them go back on market via the mls at a REO price.
Every Real Estate transaction is different! I learn something NEW every transaction. I think Shel-lee gave a very complete answer. Short Sales are difficult & if your agent is a good agent, she will represent you well on this transaction. Yes, there are separate forms for a short sale than on a traditional sale, but winforms are very easy to navigate & our board introduces new forms 2 times/year as a minimum.
There is so much inventory today, isn't there anything that you love that is not a short sale?
As Shel-lee mentioned, are you comfortable with your agent? If not, find someone else recommended by someone you trust . You many want to interview three.
Best of luck,
Patience is the key. There are many factors that the bank will consider before making a final decision one of which is to let the property go into foreclosure.
Unfortunately, banks are corporations bound by policies and procedures rather than common sense.
Look at all properties available in your market area and price range. There might be one you really like that is less problematic.
All the best,
Short sales are however a crap shoot, and require a lot of patience on the part of a buyer. They also require that you understand that there is no negotiation. In addition to that, they are offered initially (listed) for rock-bottom dollar, and are generally in better condition that foreclosed properties. Hence, you will likely need to offer something over the list price if the property is in good shape. Your agent should be able to do a CMA to give you an idea of the value, and you can submit your offer (read, bid) accordingly. Conversely, you can offer at or below list for a rough property, but expect a lot of disappointments--and be patient.
As for whether you should be looking at short sales, you should not exclude them if you have the time and patience, but you can likely make as good or better a deal on many another resale. Don't focus exclusively on short sales. Have your agent search for properties that are offering buyer incentives--pay closing costs, offering to buy down the rate etc.