Hi Shelly. I am a Real Estate Professional with the Plant City Keller Williams office on Alexander Street. Before I respond to your question, I feel it would probably be best to explain what a short sale is and how this process works so please bear with me. A short sale occurs when a property is being sold and the outstanding note is more than the property will currently get on the market should the home be sold. Because of the accelerated appreciation we experienced during the period of 2003-2005, values have steadily dropped over the years of 2006-2008 in order to allow the market to stabilize. However, this situation has caused many homeowners who either purchased or refinanced their homes while values were up to suddenly be in a position where they were upside-down on their homes. Any homeowner having to sell in this situation would be a potential short sale. Let's just say that the seller of a short sale purchased their home in 2004 for $175,000 and did 100% financing. They currently owe about $173,000 but their home will only sell in today's market for about $150,000. There is still $23,000 of outstanding debt which would need to be paid off in order for a transfer of the property to occur to a potential buyer at a sales price of $150,000. Most sellers would not have this kind of money to be able to satisfy the debt so in order for a sale to occur, the lender that currently owns the note on the home must agree to forgive the $23,000 of debt in order for a sale to occur. Should the homeowner place his home on the market for sale, any offer for purchase not sufficient to pay-off the note and closing costs would need to be approved by the seller's lender. It can be quite the process if there are not just one but two mortgages on the property which is very often the case. It is important to note that a seller in this position must be able to substantiant financial hardship in order to be forgiven the debt and this is why many of these homes are in a pre-forclosure status. The process of negotiating a short sale can be a very complicated process and therefore it is necessary to engage the services of a real estate professional or a short sale negotiator. I suppose that a homeowner could attempt to do this on their own if they were fortunate enough to procure their own buyer but I would not recommend it. Regarding your daughter's specific situation, the fact that the home is currently listed with a realtor means that either the homeowner or their lender has employed the use of the realtor's services in order to facilitate the short sale. Your daughter does not have to use this realtor but she will need a realtor to assist her in making an offer on this home. She cannot deal directly with the homeowner and quite frankly the homeowner has very little say in the entire matter. Unfortuantely it is the homeowner's lender who must approve any offer for purchase who holds all the cards. For instance, back to my example, let's say the home that should sell for $150,000 gets an offer in of $125,000. After all it is a buyer's market and the buyer of this home is looking for a deal. Why wouldn't the seller accept it? Whether the offer is for $125,000 or $150,000 it is still not going to be enough to pay off their loan. They have absolutely nothing to lose in most instances. It is the lender who will analyze the market data and have the property appraised to determine if the offer is reasonable and if the lender determines it is not, then it doesn't matter that the homeowner accepted the $125,000. If the lender doesn't approve the sale price, the sale cannot occur. The lender may come back and counter the offer and attempt to negotiate but if they cannot come to agreeable terms with a potential buyer they will in most cases allow the home to go into foreclosure. So to answer your question, no, your daughter or any buyer may not go directly to the seller of a short sale home which is listed with a realtor. However, she may use the services of her own realtor whose fees will be paid by the lender approving the short sale as part of the seller's closing costs. My suggestion would be for your daughter to contact her own realtor for assistance and if she does not have one, then I would love to help. She may reach me directly on my cell at 813-716-3997 or by e-mail at Lorraine@MyHappyRealtor.com. I wish you all the best Shelly and please do keep me in mind should you need any real estate assistance in the future.