It's sort of both. A short sale requires approval by both the seller and lender, since the transaction involves a lower price than what is owed on the home. The lender will either agree to take the hit or reject the deal ... if the latter occurs, it's back to square one. Many short sales never get to closing ... the national average is about one in four. If they were relatively routine, everyone would be looking for them, in quest of that elusive bargain (much the same as foreclosures ... another topic for another time). Irrespective of the outcome, the process takes forever ... I had one drag on for eight months, only to fall apart (it's common).
If you're actively seeking a home, and time is a factor, a short sale is not your best option ... and again, there's no guarantee that the property will ever sell for the listed price. If you'll let me know what your criteria are, I can set up an alert, so that you'll be notified of new listings the moment they come on the market. Please get in touch ... I look forward to hearing from you.