The answer to my title question has the same answer as so many questions posed in real estate: It depends!
Can a short sale negotiator do something that your Realtor can't? Probably not. If you are hiring a good Realtor, familiar with the short sale process, you won't need a negotiator. A Realtor familiar with short sales knows that most of the battle is two-fold. Pricing the home at market value and sending the bank a COMPLETE short sale contract package.
Can a short sale negotiator, actually "negotiate" your short sale? Maybe. If they are a licesned Realtor or lawyer, then contractually, that professional can negotiate contract terms of the short sale on your behalf.
What contract terms does a short sale negotiator actually negotiate? Closing date. Closing cost assistance to buyer. Sales price. If a negotiator is proposing helping you with a short sale negotiation, and they are negotiating anything relevant to your sales contract, they must have a real estate license or be an attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
There are so many folks out there that are looking to make a buck at the expense of homeowners in distress, it is very important to talk with your Realtor about whether or not you need additional help in your short sale. Again, if you have found a Realtor familiar with the short sale process, and the marketplace in which you're property is located, you may be surprised just how much your Realtor can do for you. Hiring a negotiator may just add to the balance you are already upside down to your mortgage company.
If you think you might be in need of a Short Sale Realtor, give me a call. I've closed three short sales this March. And I did those without any help from additional negotiators.