In the 'Wild, Wild, West of Real Estate" called short sales there exists an illusion of rules but anything can and does happen. ANYTHING!
These complex, illogical, abusive, convoluted, opague transactions do not have a 'good faith' party on the opposite side of the table. Banks can and do whatever they want.
70 percent of the time, the buyer can no longer stand the abuse and bail out of the process. All that time is wasted! Very few buyers are good candidates for a short sales. Because of this predictable pattern of failure, a successful short sale will be the outcome of a rigorous pre-qualification process imposed by the home owner. The owner must insure a buyer will stay engaged and able to adapt to what will eventually happen dictated by the buyers bank AND the bank managing the short sale.
As others have stated...the banks are the CAUSE of these 'taking forever' short sale. Behind their curtain of secrecy, stuff happens that to the buyer and seller all that secret stuff appears as absolute craziness. But in the end...THE BANK ALWAYS MAKES MONEY!!!
If you have what it takes, shorties can be an option. 30% do succeed.