I specialize in short sales, both listing them and helping buyers get a great deal when buying them. The answers here have gotten a bit off track from your original question. Although I am not claiming to know how all lenders work, I can tell you that all the lenders I work with will require you to have the following information before they will speak with you:
1. Loan number
2. Property address
3. Names, as they appear on the loan
4. Social security number of the borrower
5. AND an authorization to release information, signed by the sellers / borrowers, giving the lender permission to discuss the status of the account with you specifically (and one of the lenders I work with actually requires that there is a password on the auth).
Also, (and I am not sure if this is just what the banks say or if this is really the law, you might want to check with an attorney) the banks say that because of the Homeland Security laws, they cannot release any information to anyone not on the loan or given written authorization by those on the loan. They can't even confirm that the person HAS a loan with them. I have even experienced this when calling a lender about a loan on an investment property that is in my husbands name. He had to give them written authorization to speak with me, and I am his wife in a community property state (what his is mine and whats mine is his state).
The best advice I can give is make sure your realtor is staying on top of the listing agent. There are a lot of listing agents out there who are taking short sales and are inexperienced in how to handle them. The way I get short sales approved on my listings is I call EACH lender EVERY day. Your Realtor has to make sure that the listing agent is doing this or you might end up buying the home from the bank as an REO after they foreclose.
I always tell my buyers, the one with the most patience is usually the one that wins in a short sale. If you are working with an experienced short sale agent, it can still take as long as 60 days. Feel free to contact me offline, through my profile, if you want more information on the short sale process. Meanwhile, have your agent be a thorn in the listing agent's side, hope the listing agent is calling the bank daily, and either wait or keep looking for another property. Most importantly Dare to Dream.
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty