The short sale process can take 30-60 days depending on the Bank you are dealing with on the short sale and the Agent who is handling the short sale. You should be sure that an experienced Agent, one who is certified to handle these transactions is working on the sale. The Agent should have a CDPD or CDPE designation, or at least a SFA. Otherwise it may never close and end up a n REO with the bank. It is always wise to consult an attorney, but there is less for the Buyer to be concerned with as along as you get clear title from the Seller.
The Seller should seriously consider the short sale as it dramatically improves their overall financial situation versus a foreclosure, and their are usually no closing costs unless the bank demands something from them to settle the account. Otherwise all closing costs are paid by the bank including Broker fees.
If you pursue the purchase, be sure to get pre-approved from a Lender and include your pre-approval letter with the offer to purchase. You can offer less than $215k. Have your Short Sale Agent advise you on what might be an acceptable offer based on "current market value", not what is owed on the mortgage. They may accept about 88% of current market value. The actual number depends on the type of mortgage and if it has PMI.
Ray Spitler, Associate Broker, GRI, CDPD, CSSP, CSSA
Keller Williams Realty, Saginaw, MIdland, Bay County MI