This house on Webster is currently marked in the MLS as "in escrow," taking back up offers...but it's a short sale. It's an unapproved short sale to boot, from what I can tell. There is already an offer, or offers, presumably, since it's marked as under contract (in escrow/taking back up offers). You can make whatever offer you want, but the bank(s) who hold the loans on this particular house will determine the final acceptable sales price - not the owner.
It appears as if the listing agent, who along with the owner, set the price, are currently working with the bank to finally approve the short sale at a specific sales price. It's listed currently at $459,000. The bank may want $500,000. Perhaps they are owed $600,000 and are only willing to write down a $100,000 loss. I can give you more specifics on this particular house if you're interested.
If you made an offer, lower than the asking price, you can - but it's subject to the banks approval of the short sale, and again - they determine the price. They base what they want price wise, off of real market values, generally. Furthermore, if you make an offer on a short sale, writing the offer is the easy part - that just takes about a half hour to an hour. It's the waiting for an answer to your offer thats the hard part - generally about a 3-12 week waiting process, sometimes longer. Frequently there are multiple offers on short sale, due to the luring, attractive price...so all the while you're waiting, there could be other offers much higher than yours too.
Focusing on standard sales, and especially bank owned homes, is usually preferred. Short sales take a lot of patience. Approved short sales can be much easier on the patience however.
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The SCV Agents Team @ Realty Executives