Dear Kamal Salim,
I AM being positive (and trying to interject some levity into the situation) when I say that it means absolutely nothing! And in Minnesota, our laws regarding redemption periods and short sales are very different than in Florida which makes the situation much more complicated than in your area.
My point is that there IS NO PRE-DEFINED MEANING TO THE TERM in reality. This is simply an attempt by agents are to attract more buyers. It is not set in stone, regardless of how many times you have talked to the lender and how much paperwork you have submitted. It can be changed by the lender at any time without notice prior to the date of Final Acceptance. So in reality, no one can tell you up front (with any degree of certainty) how long it will take to get an approval on a short sale.
Sure, people can make promises, but they are often broken.
Also, just because a listing is not advertised as "pre-negotiated" does not mean (as you stated) "that the owner has decided to market the property for a price much lower than he owes the lender, without the lender's consent or approval, and we have no idea whether that price would even be considered by the lender". Who is being negative now???
Some lenders will not give you a price up front regardless of how hard you try or what paperwork you submit. It depends on the lender, they are all different. That is why it is wise to have an agent who does BPOs (Broker Price Opinions done for banks to determine value) on a regular basis because they can perform the same analysis and come up with a good price for the listing.
And ANY so-called pre-negotiated price is only good for 30 days anyway.
I just don't like to get people's hopes all up and then have to shatter them. If someone REALLY NEEDS to close quickly, a "pre-negotiated short sale" is NOT a guarantee that they will close on time.
Buyers should be well informed and I tell it like it is. The short sale process is gut-wrenching enough for buyers without giving buyers false hopes or false impressions. There are some good deals out there, but you have to be patient. If you have a hard and fast deadline, a short sale may not be the best thing for you.
By the way, I am a SFR: Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource, a GRI: Graduate REALTOR Institute, and licensed in Minnesota. I specialize in Short Sales and representing Buyers in purchasing Foreclosures.