In short sale situations in Lake County, I have seen where the listing agent sets an artificially low asking price to get offers, and then after an offer comes in, bank orders a distressed BPO appraisal and the bank counters with a higher number than original asking price. Unless of course, the short sale house is pre-approved at the asking price. You have no right to know the basis of their counter offer or approval process. If the house is pre-approved at the asking price, going in close to that number is the best way to know where you stand quicker. The banks have a sophisticated non emotional model and it is a committee decision.
A lot of short sales stall or fall apart because of the seller's attorney trying to get a zero deficiency satisfaction letter from the bank. There are two things the bank has to approve. First the release letter to permit the short sale to take place and 2nd, the satisfaction letter to take less than what the short amount actually is. Often the bank will want 50% of the shortage repaid over ten years in a non collateralized loan and the seller attorney is trying to get the seller 100% Scot free of the deficiency.
Many times I think banks are blamed unfairly about response time, when in fact the seller doesn't have a legitimate hardship or is unwilling to carry forward any of the shortage. Remember, the bank is doing the seller a favor in agreeing to allow a short sale to take place and to take less than what is owed!
You do have a right to know what the seller's hardship is and can ask for a copy of the hardship letter given to the bank. Also, a local attorney can run a pro-forma title policy to figure out how big is the deficiency. Attorney's are title company agents and can run a "free" title search for you. If it is a big number the bank might just let it go to foreclosure and you are wasting your time.
Call me if you care to discuss further