Just Jack they should rename them Long-sales, because they can take 4-8+ months to close. No guarantees what so ever, and the banks take their sweet ole time. If you can be patient and willing to walk away from the transaction, usually the property can be purchased well under normal market value.
It all depends on the bank. Do you know which bank holds the mortgage? It's not unusual to wait at least 30 days. The bank has to gather all the documents from the seller and order an appraisal, then talk to the actual investors. Short sales can provide a real value for buyers, but in exchange you have to be patient.
Just Jack the reason for who holds the loan is: smaller lenders are usually easier to deal with and faster to reply. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase take a very long time in my experience. All short-sale lenders care about regarding the new purchaser is their ability to buy the property. Does not matter to them if it is financed or cash.
A local agent or possibly mortgage representative may be able to look up who currently holds the loan or loans. If you are dealing with a listing agent they know who the lender is. Hang in there Just Jack as most short-sales fall apart becuase the buyer gets fed-up and walks away from the transaction.
Unfortunately there is no magic answer to that question. Plus it depends on who the bank is and if it has been approved before or if you are the first offer they have ever recieved.
When it comes to short sales the bank unfortuantely could care less if you have all cash. It will come down to if the seller has a true hardship, your offer is not more than 5-7% below market value, and if the investor will take that amount (sojmetimes they think its better to take the hit & collect the MI)
I have seen responses come in anywhere from 2 days to 8 months. Every deal is differnet. If this property has had offers before, and the lender has ordered a recent BPO ( Broker Price Opinion) then your answer may come soon. Ask your agent to discuss this with the listing agent to find out more.
@ Suzanne, I do not know who currently holds the mortgage. I was able to find out that the previous owner bought the house in 2008 and it was a REO at that time. They paid only $5k more than I offered.