How successful are short sales? I realize that short sales take longer, but I have a few questions: How

Asked by Bigdogx, Anthem, AZ Thu Aug 27, 2009

many short sales are actually go through?

Are they even worth placing an offer?

If you do place an offer, should it be for the asking amount or lower?


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Jim Mitchell, Agent, Tempe, AZ
Thu Aug 27, 2009
Hi BidDogx.

Statistics show that only about 1 - 10 (10%) of all short sales actually close, but I believe that number is higher. A good agent that is a shrewd negotiator and can multi-task should close over 70%.

Are they even worth placing an offer?

Absolutely, if you do a little homework. Before placing an offer, have your agent ask a few simple and basic (but very important) questions of the listing agent:

1. how many loans are involved? If only one, and it was a 'purchase money' loan, then it should be a fairly simple task as long as the seller has a legit hardship. Even if it was an investment purchase, it still has a good chance of getting approved if there's only one loan. Two loans are a different story. If they were part of an 80/20 purchase loan, and with the same bank, then it might not be too bad although it will decrease the chances of approval. If the 2nd loan is a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) and it was taken out after purchase as a loan on the equity of the home, then your chances of success diminish greatly. The reason being this lender does not want to 'roll over' and take just a few thousand dollars to release their lien, which is what the 1st lien holder will try and do.

2. Which banks are involved? Wells Fargo is quick and efficient, and I've closed several short sales with them in just 4-5 weeks. EMC Mortgage, Litton Loan Servicing, Select Portfolio Servicing, Aurora Loans, First Franklin...these are examples of good banks to work with. They are fairly well staffed and respond quick to the agent(s) request for updates and information. Bank of America, on the other hand, is NOT on this list. They are basically overwhelmed at the moment; I was told last week that the week prior they received 400,000 NEW requests for short sales. They are VERY slow to respond to offers and it's not unusual for them to take 12-15 weeks to get a short sale approved and closed, if not more.

3. Are their any other misc. liens on the property? Tax liens, HOA liens, medical/child support liens, etc. These can all hinder the approval process and lengthen it by several days if not weeks, and can sometimes kill the deal entirely.

4. Is the owner/seller cooperative? If the seller doesn't care what happens, and the agent(s) and buyer(s) care more than them, then it's likely you'll have a very difficult time closing the transaction.

5. Who determined the listing price, the bank (pre-approved) or the listing agent? This is crucial. If it's priced too low, then the bank will have a hard time approving the short sale. If it's priced too high, then you run into the problem of it not appraising for the offer amount and maybe overpaying for the property.

6. Look for the ones that say 'Pre-Approved; buyer fell out'. Those should be easier and quicker to deal with if the listing agent knows what they're doing.

You also asked.."if you do place an offer, should it be for the asking amount or lower?"

Have your agent do a market analysis to determine what you should offer. It might be at full list price if the home is priced correctly and in good condition with some upgrades, or you could come in a bit lower and see what the bank says. Always can always increase your offer and meet the bank's demands for a higher purchase price, but you can't decrease it unless the appraisal comes in lower than your offer. That being said, sometimes the bank just doesn't care what the appraisal says...they want $XXX dollars and they'll either wait until they get it or they'll just foreclose.

In this aggressive market, I'm seeing multiple offers on the good short sales within the first week or two on the market, so it's not unusual for the offers to exceed the listing price by several thousand dollars.

As always, you should consult with a licensed Realtor who can help guide you through the buying process. * using a Realtor to represent you in the purchase of a home as your 'buyer's agent', you don't pay for that service...our commission is paid by the seller!*

Hope this helps guide you in the right direction!


Jim Mitchell
Century 21 All Star, REALTORS
2 votes
John Stacy, Agent, Chula Vista, CA
Sat Feb 27, 2010

Jim did provide some very good and valid information about SS's. I also agree with Randy in that "some" cases short sales will make you crazy... it's all relative. I've closed a short sale in as little as 2 months and I also had a nightmare that that took one year (buyer wanted to wait to purchase in a specific area).

Many times, the listed price isn't always accurate or final. Offer what you are willing to pay and if the comps justify and support a fair maket price that the bank will consider (due to the condition of the property, neighborhood/city trend, loan balance etc...). Remember, the bank will decide the final price that they will agree to sell it.

Have your agent do their due diligence. Keep in mind that the price you offer needs to reflect a realistic price in 2-3 months time (or more) by the time you receive the final approval letter and most importantly... will the property appraise then!

In general, shorts sales do take longer... but that doesn't mean you should avoid them. Just like California, Arizona has a ton of short sales and bank owned properties. Some neighborhoods have a large percentage of short sales and some don't. Make sure you are working with an experienced agent that is familiar with SS's and bank owned. In regards to how many SS's go through? A couple of years ago, a 10% success rate (what Jim said) is probably correct. In today's market, it is much higher than that. Good luck in your home search!

With Kind Regards,
John Stacy

Realtor, CDPE
Bank Owned and Short Sale Specialist
Weichert Realtors Elite
619.892.2985 cell
0 votes
Courtney Gore…, Agent, Lilburn, GA
Sat Feb 27, 2010
Outside of the long wait for a response,I definately think its worth placing an offer I have been doing short sales for 4 years and fortunately, I have obtained approvals on everyone I have initiated, the price submitted for the offer may have got countered but end the end we have been successful at getting the approval to proceed. GO FOR IT.
0 votes
Randy Hooker, Agent, Chandler, AZ
Thu Feb 25, 2010
Short sales are a nightmare from hell. I personally think they are the scourge of the planet, and an abominable travesty on the public.
0 votes
Nikki P. But…, , 75013
Thu Feb 25, 2010
Short sales are absolutely worth looking at and making an offer if you are willing to be patient. You can end up with a great property if you are willing to wait the time it can take for the lien holder to get everything in order. It is extremely important that the listing agent knows what they are doing and is on top of the paperwork that the lien holder requires. Before looking at any short sale as a consumer you should make sure your realtor has communicated with the listing agent to make sure the property is short sale approved and that all paperwork has been submitted. It is not necessary to always offer full price. If the lien holder has not done a market analysis of the property the list price may just be the listing agents best guess on value. Your best bet is to be a back up offer or second offer. At that point the listing agent should know exactly what the bank will be willing to accept.
0 votes
Richelle Bri…, , Simi Valley, CA
Fri Aug 28, 2009
I have experience in Short Sales in the Greater Los Angeles area. They are getting easier all the time. The stimulus package is giving banks incentives to do short sales over taking the house back. I have done short sales in 4 months from start to finish. I would certainly recommend making an offer. Make sure the listing agent has had experience with short sales. Make sure that they have a full package to the bank as soon as you make your offer. Many times, the listing agent will start the package before they even have an offer, you can ask them before you make an offer. These can be better for a buyer because in a high demand market such as LA, there are multiple offers on REOs and the prices get bid up to more than current market price.
0 votes
Randy Hooker, Agent, Chandler, AZ
Thu Aug 27, 2009
I agree that Jim gave you an over-the-top response. So take a look at his very first statement: "Statistics show that only about 1 - 10 (10%) of all short sales actually close." No stop and think about that for a moment. Now think about it one more time. If you've followed my instructions, and you still feel like entering the nightmare arena of short sales, then you should immediately contact Jim. ;-)
0 votes
Michelle Tho…, Agent, El Dorado Hills, CA
Thu Aug 27, 2009
Jim did a great job below...Just wanted to add that short sales make up a high percentage of inventory. If you see a great house, write an offer. It can't hurt. If it recently hit the market, there may be a long journey. You may have better luck looking at homes that have been contingent for 2 or more months as most of the buyers are getting tired of the wait and move on to other opportunites. You may write a back up offer on those and all of a sudden you are in first position. Some of those great houses turn into foreclosures so stay up on the inventory. My client wrote on a short sale and ended up buying it as a foreclosure.
0 votes
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