Interested in buying a "short sale" home.

Asked by Michelle, Phoenix, AZ Fri Sep 5, 2008

I'm interested in some homes that are listed as short sales. A realtor I spoke with once (today) was telling me short sales are frequently bait and switch, take a long time, and are seldom accepted.
I am about to start working with the credit side (getting all that together so I can buy at a moments notice once I find the house). The credit person works with the realtor, so I don't want to start going with her unless I'm sure the realtor is the one I want to go with.
1. Are short sales really often "bait and switch" operations, asking for such low prices and taking 3-6 months to get an answer? How long does it take to get an answer?
2. Is the house then sold to someone who knows the system and gives a much higher bid than the extremely low asking price?
3. Do realtors tend to steer people away from short sales if they time/labor-intensive and involve a low commission (due to the lower price)?

Any other gen'l buyers advice re: short sales would be helpful!

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Carlos Ramir…, Agent, Mesa, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008

Your Realtor is probably telling you the truth, but I wouldn't call it a bait and switch situation. The listed price in most instances has not been approved by the bank, it is a price that the listing agent feel is fair and will sell for. If the bank feels that the price is too low then they will not accept the offer and/or counter with a higher price. This will be out of the control of the listing agent. I work a lot of short sales and foreclosures and I have seen cases where the bank automatically counters, even if the offering is above asking price and is a very good one for the market.

Although a good listing agent should know enough about the market to list it at a price the bank will accept. There might (or might not) be some agents that just put a very low price as a bite, but I don't know a lot of those.

Depending on how diligent the Realtor is, and the stage where the short sale is at the time you place an offer a response can take anywere from 2 weeks to over 3 months. Around 2 months seems to be typical.

Realtors should not be steering away any clients. Our job is to provide the data then you make the decision. In terms on commission it should not make a difference since the client will most probably stay within the same price range. In terms of labor it does not make much difference to the agent representing the buyer, as most of the work of dealing with the banks is being handled by the seller's agent.

I specialize on Short sales and foreclosures and have sold many of those. When I am representing a buyer I also think that foreclosures are a better option. Prices on foreclosures can sometimes be lower than short sales and you get an answer in 1 to 5 days rather than months.

But that is just my opinion. I like to present that data and let the client decide. Your Realtor seems to be honest with you and he should be able to provide you with more details.

Good luck!
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2 votes
Tonje Kearney, Agent, Scottsdale, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008

It's hit and miss, but the majority of short sales takes a long time. Often the asking prices are not backed up by anything other than the sellers agent setting the price really low to attract a lot of buyers. In terms of getting an answer fast it all depends on how far along in the process the sellers are, what bank you are dealing with, if there are more than one lien holder, how aggressive the sellers agent is and a whole lot of luck. Answers can be anywhere from 1 week to 6 months, with the vast majority you are looking at a 3-6 week time line to get an answer.

2. Not by someone that knows the "system", but by buyers seeing the extremely low price and is willing to pay closer to market price, which stands a good chance of getting accepted.

3. I know some agents do avoid them due to lots of work and small commission. I do not shy them for that reason, but I advice my buyers to avoid them unless you have serious patience. I have had several buyers giving up half way through and it is nothing but frustration to them. If you have extreme patience and is willing to wait a long time then it may be for you. But don't expect a whole lot of communication, usually there is very little. Put in an offer and wait, wait, wait. If that is not for you, then don't look at short sales.

Other advice..... short sales are not the best deals out there, bank owned homes are. Priced better, easier to deal with and much more of a sure thing.
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2 votes
Jamie Geiger, , Mesa, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Short sales typically are not a "good" deal, 90% do not close, and it can take 1-3 months, to even get an answer when you make a short sale offer. Additionally, due to the slow response, it is not unheard of for a Short sale to proceed to foreclosure and be sold at auction.

If you want to get a "good" deal you should look more toward the REO/Foreclosure market. Banks typically are motivated and price them very aggressively to sell and many of these homes end up with multiple offers.
2 votes
Barry Lynn M…, , Trussville, AL
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Depends on the lender last month I got one approved in just over a week the lender was National City Mortgage. They required an appraisal and As long as it didn't come in below 63% of payoff or 115% more of payoff we were good. The longest part was appraisal we are scheduled to close on the 19th I’ll let you know if I have any problem.

2. If someone is buying the property as primary residents seems to go smoother if its an investor (KNOWS SYSTEM) the lender seems to give them more problems

3. Commission is not that much lower so don't see an agent causing the problem but if your agent doesn't want to work it for you there is allot that will.
2 votes
Jeff, Home Buyer, Maryland
Fri Sep 5, 2008
I recently placed an offer on a house that was a short sale. I asked if the short sale had been approved and for what terms. (I did not want to deal with a short sale for many months.) The previous short sale agreement with the owner/lender and prospective buyer fell through. I submitted my offer based on terms that were agreed between the owner/lenders (1st and 2nd lien holders) and previous prospective buyer, but the 1st and 2nd lien holders want to start the short sale process/review all over again. I will try to stick in there for a little while longer, but I will pull the plug on my offer if there is no substatntial process in 2 months. By the way, I understand short sales are further complicated when there is more than one lien holder/mortgage. Good luck!
1 vote
Lucinda Tkach, , Phoenix, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008

I looks like these agents answered quite well!

There is a lot of time spent on a short sale both on the contract and constant follow up with the bank.

As a professional agent I like to work hard to work for a sale to go through. There are so many factors in the process.

It can take 3-6 mos to get an answer! A good agent representing a client would like to present an offer and work hard to to help the buyer work out the details. Every time we add another offer it only complicates the process and adds more time before we recieve an answer.

It also helps for the buyers agent to build a consistant communication with the listing agent! This way any problems can be resolved early.

The frustration with short sales you usually only get a verbal reply from the bank months down the road ! They are over whelmed ,short of staff and have so many homes to settle on.

If you want to purchase a home in a short period of time there are some great prices in resale and new build spec homes.

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions!

1 vote
Eric Israel, Agent, Orange, CA
Fri Sep 5, 2008
The truth is what everyone has said below. If I were you, I would go out and make many offers on many different short sale homes. That way, you have a better chance of getting one. They are really a turn off for everyone involved. Go make multiple offers on them and then forget about them completely and go start looking at bank owned homes you may have an interest in. Maybe by the grace of god 3 weeks to 6 months down the road, you will hear some good news on one of the short sale homes you offered on. Check out the website below as it offers some explanation on how it works.
1 vote
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Fri Sep 5, 2008

The fact of the matter is many real estate agents will not have anything to do with short sales is much more complicated than you give it credit. 90% of all short sales contracts written do not close.....would you go to work if you only stood a 10% chance of getting paid anything.

Additionally, our buyers in many cases are taken advantage of with lack of information from banks, excessively long waiting periods, and yes, agents for all of these reasons buyers are told to wait until it goes into "foreclosure" because many of the problems that contribute to waiting and frustration have been resolved.

Michelle, general advice for short sales.........skip them and look at foreclosures.
1 vote
Steve Belt, , Scottsdale, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008
You have some great questions, Michelle.

The underlying bank that has the mortgage for the property you would consider is a very big contributor for how long it will take, and whether it's possible to even get an approved short sale. To give an example of one bank's time line, Countrywide has in it's guidelines, 15 business days from appraisal (after the appraisal has been completed and is available at Countrywide) to simply assign a negotiator. Once assigned, that person has 15 business days to consider the entire package, and if approved, submit the package to the underlying investor, for approval. The investor then is allowed up to 6 weeks to approve the deal. That's 12 weeks. Believe me, it isn't fun for anyone involved.

Other banks are faster, in fact, nearly every bank is faster. However, I once needed 45 days, just to get my first phone call back from ING Direct.

As to the listing price and how it might be considered bait and switch, if you are considering a buyer's agent, for the purpose of buying a short sale, be sure you find one that is personally experienced in short sale transactions. Your agent needs to know how to do a short sale comparative market analysis, to be sure you aren't being "used".

Are the houses sold to someone that knows the system? A house you make an offer on, may get sold to someone else, if your agent doesn't do everything she can to protect your offer, and ensure your offer is always the only offer the bank is considering. There are tactics and techniques for doing that, and the agent you use better know a thing or three about how to protect you and your offer.

Do REALTORs streer people away from short sales? This depends. If there is an easier transaction, for a similar property, I will always have the discussion with my client about what a short sale entails and then let them decide. Most of my clients right now are owner occupying the home, and can't dream of waiting at least 3 months to find out if their offer is accepted. An investor will likely wait. Is a short sale worth the hassle to the agent? I'll be honest and share with you that my commission is always an issue with the bank for a short sale transaction. That means that I'm unlikely to earn the same commission if you close on a short sale (at the same price), as if you close on a non-short sale. I fight hard for my commission, but it is indeed always an issue, and frankly, something that is frustrating to have to fight for.

My advice to you, is that if you are searching for a home that has foreclosure inventory available in the same area, that you'll probably get just about as good a deal buying a foreclosure as you would a short sale. Condition might be a tad worse, but with enough work, you'll probably get close, and when you make an offer on a foreclosure, you'll probably get an answer back within a few days. Then you can expect to close in 30 days or so. Basically, it's a standard length of time. If there isn't any foreclosure inventory (which is the case in many highly desirable areas), a short sale purchase is indeed the best way to purchase a home at the best price, so it's worth the effort. Just make sure you the right buyer's agent on your side that knows how to protect you and your offer/transaction.

FYI, just in case you might be looking in Anthem, I'm listing 3 short sales in Anthem right now. I also know an absolutely killer deal on a short sale in the Biltmore area...just to name a couple of choices.
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1 vote
Paul Welden, Agent, Scottsdale, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Hi Michelle,

Short sales are not necessarily "bait & switch," but you must understand the the price you see listed is never a guaranteed price that you would be allowed to buy it, even if the description says "short sale approved." They usually do take quite a long time, up to 6 months to close, but some can be done quicker because it all depends on how good the listing agent is & the offer that you submit. Typically, it will take 45-60 days to maybe get an answer on your offer, all the while, multiple other offers are also being submitted for consideration. Short sale properties, as with any other property for sale, will be sold to the best offer and a higher price is not always the best offer. You must also consider all the terms & conditions and any concessions you will be asking of the seller. With 85-90% of short sales never end up working out for the buyer, most agents will not show short sales because of their high failure rate. You will be much better off buying a home directly from a private seller who is not in foreclosure or directly from the bank.

I welcome you to visit my site for more specific information about short sales & general buyer's advice.

Paul Welden
Buyer's Agent REALTOR
HomeSmart Real Estate
1 vote
Todd Lee, Agent, Phoenix, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008
They are not "bait and switch" unless the agent themselves is using it as a means to get buyer leads. Short sales are very difficult in most cased to get answers back on because you are at the mercy of a lender who is usually buried with these files on their desk. They are also instructed to get the most that they can for the property (since they are already losing money) so they will usually wait for several weeks to see if they can get a higher bid in. They can be a great deal for the money but only about 1 in 10 ever goes through and finalized. I know several buyers who started out looking for a short sale but after several unsuccessful attempts have stopped even considering them. Find an agent that specializes in handling short sales and seek their advice. Ultimately you want the best, most knowledgeable person about how to navigate them successfully so you don't waste you time.

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1 vote
Joycelewis412, Home Buyer, Sacramento, CA
Sat Aug 17, 2013
A good mortgage broker or loan officer should be able to give you the details. Shop around with different mortgage brokers and see who can be able to give a better deal.

Check if you qualify for a mortgage. Try http
0 votes
Bianca Benne…, Agent, Glendale, AZ
Tue Jun 25, 2013

Are you able to wait for a long time to close or even taking the chance not to close at all?
I have been in that situation, and is not fun! I wanted to buy a short sale property and after I wasted almost 3 months of my time, at the end the bank did not want to move forward with my offer, and they decided to foreclose. I was very disappointed, because I really liked that house.

Let me know if I can help you find the perfect home for you.

Best Regards,

Real Estate Professional / Prestige Realty
Bianca Bennett / 602-570-7898
0 votes
Patti Kane, Home Buyer, Boulder, CO
Sun Jun 23, 2013
I had a short sale last year and my Realtor recommend for a home loan. I am very happy to be able to purchase again.
CFS Mortgage assists homeowners who have recently been through a foreclosure, short sale or have recently emerged from bankruptcy.
0 votes
Mark Holodnak, Agent, Phoenix, AZ
Wed Sep 24, 2008
Short sales are not meant to be "bait & switch". The short-sales I have represented buyers on this year were all purchased for less than the listing price. Yes there have been times where multiple offers on a 'low' priced home has driven up the price but we moved on to the next property but with each client we found an even better home at a better price.
The bank that is reviewing the offer does not know who "knows the system" they are only looking at which offer is most likely to close at the highest price. That is their only concern.
The Realtor you are working with has an ethical obligation to represent your best interests. If an agent steers you away from a home for a higher commision one, that is not in your best interest.
The time and intensive part of a short sale lies with the listing agent not the buyers agent.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

0 votes
The Hagley G…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Fri Sep 5, 2008
You may find information on short sales at the site looks at both the buying and selling side. Good luck!
0 votes
Michelle, Home Buyer, Phoenix, AZ
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Thanks to everyone who answered my questions - you told me exactly what I was looking for. As a first time buyer I had been (am) pretty much in the dark.

It is also good to know that I can submit multiple offers for short sales and forget about them. Provided I can do this without commitment to buy and provided it isn't excessive paperwork for my real estate agent this may be a good way to go - while still keeping open to the possibility of moving quickly on short-notice foreclosures.
0 votes
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