The underlying lender on my short sale was Fannie Mae with Chase as a mere middleman "servicer". Fannie Mae finally clamped down on servicer abuses and this loan was then transferred to IBM lender services and they seemed to be a bit more responsive and not constantly "losing" paperwork. Utilmately, though, the sale did not close and it's in limbo because the Seller was required by the Private Mortgage Insurance company (this is another important question to ask because it can cause a problem) to sign a $60k promissory note and the seller refused. The Seller is now fighting the foreclosure lawsuit in court and it could drag on another year or so... The current buyers are not willing to wait so the house is temporarily off the market until the seller decides how he wants to proceed.
A few important things with making an offer on a short sale, 1) DO NOT give any earnest money until/if you ever get a short sale approval letter listing you as the buyer and an addendum signed by the seller that he agrees to the terms of the short sale approval because the seller can attempt to coerce you to give him some of that money because technically (although you may be legally entitled to get your deposit back) the Seller must sign a release for you to get your money. 2) DO NOT put any money into inspections or appraisal until/if you get an approval letter 3) Most importantly, you need to keep searching and making offers on homes until the day you receive your short sale approval letter in your hands because there may be an even better property that you can actually buy come on the market and it would be a shame to miss the opportunity.
Also you need to plan on the house being left vacant without any electricity if the seller decides to move out. And although the contract may specifically state the appliances, window treatments and light fixtures are included in the sale, often short sellers will go ahead and sell all of those things on craigslist. And worse scenario is after you make your offer the seller will then rent it out to a destructive tenant with dogs, cats and other animals that may chew the woodwork and cause smells that may be difficult to remove.
And... do not think you can actually buy the house at even the full asking price because until the price has been approved by the lender(s) (they will do a full appraisal or get multiple broker price opinions to determine value) . The asking price on a short sale is "ficticious".
Your best be is for a true bargain to go for a property already foreclosed by the bank. Even an ugly fixer upper can still be bought with only 3.5% down with an FHA 203k mortgage where you an include the granite counters, hardwood floors, new bathroom cabinets and tile work, new roof, new air conditioner, etc. You could turn an ugly home (ideally in a nice neighborhood) into a show place and not have to lift a finger.
If you're less concerned about getting a bargain and want a property in good condition then look at the few "regular" sales with owners that have equity and do not have to do a short sale. Short Sales are not for the risk averse.
Hope this helps.