The average is 3 months, but may take as long as 5 months. The words "Short Sale", does not mean quick escrow. It can be very frustrating, so patience is the secret. It is important to understand the bank is in control, not the Seller. The bank must first approve the Seller that they qualify for a short sale, which means they do have a legitamite hardship and no tangible assets to pay the lender off in full! The lender is agreeing to take a reduction in payoff to help close the escrow.
The important thing to understand is that when your offer is presented, you do not have a negotiated contract until the bank approves both the Seller and your offer and you have complete signatures from the bank. Do not order home inpections or appraisals until you have the complete approval, and protect yourself by stating in the offer you will not complete inspections or pay for the appraisal til after the bank negotiates and accepts your offer. This way you will not spend any extra dollars that the bank will not reimburse if they do not negotiate or agree to the short sale. Also keep in mind even if the bank may agree to a short sale and you proceed ahead. The bank at anytime can change their mind and decide to go ahead with the full foreclosure. The deal is not done til it closes escrow.
Your deposit check will not be cashed until you have a completly executed contract and they open escrow. So if the the waiting period is taking too long, and you happen to find another home, you can typically cancel the offer made and move on to the next situation. Once you open escrow, then you cannot just get your deposit back, you would have to have a formal cancelation from the title company signed by both parties for them to release the deposit back to you.
Good luck on your house hunting!
Doreen K. Lane