As Forest Gump says: [Short-Sales are] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.
This past month I had the pleasure (and fortitude) to close three very different Short-Sales in Southern California. No two are ever exactly alike. I refer to them as "fluid" financial transactions. They can drip, flow, gush, or dry up.
Short-Sale #1 Anaheim Hills - Representing the Seller. My client bought at the height of the market and was ready to get out. We put it on the MLS in May 1, 2010 and closed January 28, 2011. That is almost 9 months of paperwork, negotiating, and perseverance. There were plenty of buyers who wanted to purchase the home, and the seller was exceedingly cooperative, but the two lienholders were in no rush to respond. Both banks approved the short-sale late November. Then the buyer's lender caused another month of delays and if a buyer's lender asks for a Short-Sale approval extension you never know if it will be granted - Nail-biter! All the banks involved got a D for effort, but the hard work of everyone else got the job done.
Short-Sale #2 North Tustin - Representing the Buyer. My buyer made an offer in August of 2010, got Short-Sale approval beginning of December and closed January 18th 2011, a 6 month turnaround. It was fairly clean, but an attorney was negotiating the sale, which meant their exceptionally high fees were folded into my client's purchase price, thus taking a bit of extra time to get approved.
Short-Sale #3 North Corona - Representing the Buyer. This short-sale had only one lien holder and the seller was short by only a small amount. Another buyer's offer had already been approved by the bank and they pulled out of the transaction. My buyer submitted an offer and immediately went into escrow. From offer to close of escrow it was only 30 days. This is a shockingly quick. My buyer paid below market value and got 6K towards his closing costs. Sweet deal.
30 days, 6 months, 9 months, or never at all: Flexibility is the key to a Short-Sale transaction. Be patient, hire experienced professionals, and manage your expectations. Share the word.