On average, a short sale will take 3 to 5 months to get an answer from the seller's lender whether or not they will approve the contract. For buyers who need to purchase and be in a home in a shorter period of time, a short sale will not work. Buyers in short sales tend to get frustrated with the length of time in the process and continue to search for properties, and, in many instances, will withdraw from a short sale contract to pursue another property. This also leaves the listing agent without a buyer after so much work has been done to get the seller's lenders approval. The transaction fails for everyone and alot of time and work has been wasted.
Short sales can be a nice buy for those purchasers who can wait and be patient with the process. In the end, they will have a property at a discounted price, and, at today's low interest rates, an excellent buy for the long term.
Now let's be honest. Real estate sales is one of the few professions where a sales agent does not get paid until the transaction is closed. In the case of short sales, an agent can be involved in a transaction for months, continue to show properties because buyers want to see anything and everything at the expense of the agent, and there is no compensation for the agent's counsel, advice, experience, time, paperwork, research etc. Try this with a lawyer, doctor, accountant, or any other service provider. So there's a downside for agents also. But, with proper, upfront education for a buyer, a short sale can be a great deal, and through mutual understanding and agreement between buyer and agent, there can be a positive outcome, with patience. The buyer gets a great deal on a property they really want and the agent gets compensated to pay their bills for the next month or two.