Short Sales: Reasons Why They Take So Long

Services for Real Estate Pros

When talking to individuals who are just getting started in short sales, I often hear the following question, "Why does it take so long to hear back from lenders about my offers?"   To help answer this common question, I pulled together a short list of possible reasons causing the long holdups. 

Naturally, this is not a conclusive list, so I would appreciate your comments and feedback on what you think are other possible reasons causing these long short sale delays.


1.  Because of the epidemic number of U.S. foreclosures, there are just too many cases for loss mitigators to review.

In a conversation I had with a mitigator several months ago, she told me that she had over 400 short sale files she had to review.  Naturally, with this type of unprecedented case load before her and many other loan specialists, it makes it extremely difficult for mitigators to quickly review offers, order BPOs, and follow up in a timely fashion with individuals that submitted short sale offers.

2.  There are not enough experienced loss mitigators to keep up with the growing case demands.  There are a large number of unskilled mitigators still learning the ropes and ill-prepared to keep up with the excessive demands pushed on them by the growing number of homeowners defaulting on their mortgages.

3.  Short sales can take longer when there are multiple lien holders involved.  If the second lien holder wants more than the first is willing to give up, then this stalemate could add addditional weeks to the timeline before a decision on your offer is rendered. 

4.  If you haven't heard back from the mitigator since you submitted your offer months ago, it could be because your seller/homeowner is still making his mortgage payments.  Typically, lenders won't consider a short sale unless the homeowner is delinquent by three months.  So, naturally, if the seller is still making his mortgage payments on time, then the lender will be a lot less motivated to consider your short sale offer and may even just plain throw out your request.

5.  Another key reason for the long wait time in hearing back from mitigators is usually because of the investor involved in the short sale.  Yes, in case, you weren't aware of it, there is usually an investor lurking behind the scenes.  He owns the seller's note and may have imposed strict short sale guidelines.  In this situation, all offers would need to be approved by the investor(s) before the mitigator could relay/convey news back to you whether your offer is approved or not. 

6.  Another reason for the holdup is that there is frequently too many parties involved in the short sale process.  In case you weren't aware, there are usually three parties involved in the short sale review process, which can unfortunately help to lengthen the time it takes to receive word back from the loss mitigator. 

There is the Lender (or investor), the Servicer, and the MI Company.  The lender loans the borrower/seller the money to purchase the property.  The Servicer sends the seller his monthly loan statements and collects mortgage payments, and the MI Company provides insurance to protect the lender's interest in the property in the event the seller or borrower defaults on the loan. 

Since PMI is always required when the borrower's LTV ratio exceeds 80%, this would naturally explain why the MI Company would be involved in short sales where the seller has little or no equity in the property.  Also, this would help to explain why it can take mitigators considerably longer to get back to you on short sales falling within the parameters described.

Well, this sums up my list of reasons for the LONG WAIT TIMES in receiving news from mitigators on short sale offers.  Again, if you have other reasons you'd like to add here, please be sure to leave me your comments.


 "Short Sales:  Reason Why They Take So Long," from Tracy Miller's Blog:  Short Sales & More!  (Material Copyrighted 2008. Tracy Miller; All Rights Reserved.)   Tracy's blog published at Active Rain Real Estate Network (  It is permissible to reprint, repost, reblog this material. 

Comments (12)

Chris Fisher
Your Virtual Assistant - Concord, CA

You really are jumping right into Active Rain with useful information, Tracy!  Keep up the good work!

Dec 02, 2008 06:25 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

The loss mitigators I have spoken to are just overwhelmed with 100's of files with no end in sight.

Dec 02, 2008 05:00 PM
Danny Thornton
R & D Art - Knoxville, TN
WordPress Guru

Tracy, information like this is just what the consumers need to know. Great job.

Dec 07, 2008 01:40 PM
Tracy Miller
Canton, MS
S. S. Specialist

Chris:  Thanks for stopping by.  I appreciate you paying me regular vists to review my material and helping my head to continue to swell.

Christine:  Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your experiences on this subject. 

Danny:  I'm so glad you found the information helpful and thanks so much for your kind words.

Dec 07, 2008 01:54 PM
Lara O'Keefe
North Texas Home Finders - McKinney, TX

Tracy, it seems that the banks are overwhelmed with the volume of files right now. This was helpful information, thanks.

Dec 12, 2008 10:01 AM
Michael Wayne Jackson
Coldwell Banker - Novato, CA
Broker - Seniors Real Estate Specialist Novato

Well put Tracy, the only other thing I can think of is the seller not getting information back ot the bank in a timely fashion.

Dec 15, 2008 07:55 AM
AMBER NOBLE GARLAND - Top Real Estate Expert, Property Tax Appeal Specialist & Author
Strategic Marketing Expert & Relocation Specialist Serving New Jersey and nationwide! - Marlboro, NJ
- The Agent You Can Trust To Deliver REAL Results!

Tracy, I'm glad I've discovered your blog. You'll nailed most of the reasons. I think another reason is because sometimes the employees in the mitigation depts. just don't understand how severe the circumstances may be. Some of them just don't take it seriously.

Dec 17, 2008 11:26 AM
Wendy Rulnick
Rulnick Realty, Inc. - Destin, FL
"It's Wendy... It's Sold!"

Tracy - Well written- refreshingly well-written!  Wendy

Dec 18, 2008 10:35 AM
Tracy Miller
Canton, MS
S. S. Specialist

Lara:  Thank you for stopping by.  I'm glad you found my post helpful.

Mike:  Thank you for reading my blog and offering some input on the subject.  Thanks for mentioning sellers taking an excessive amount of time in furnishing important documents to lenders can hinder a quick response.  You're absolutely right.

Amber:  Thanks so much for visiting and sharing your insights and experiences on this subject.  Yes, I agree with you.  I'm sure most mitigators are not aware just how severe the seller's challenges or hardship may be.  Unfortunately, many of us can't relate or sympathize with another man's problems unless unfortunately we're placed in his shoes.

Wendy:  Thank you so much for the compliment.  I especially appreciate it coming from you since you're a much sought after Short Sales Expert in Florida.

Dec 22, 2008 01:23 PM
Retired Notworking
Tallahassee, FL

This is a very helpful list. You speak authoritatively and it's obvious you have had a lot of experience.

Dec 29, 2008 05:08 AM
Tom Boos
Sine & Monaghan Realtors, Real Living - Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Providing the very best of service to Sellers and

Great job Tracy.  I look forward to your future posts.

Mar 05, 2009 02:00 AM
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

Well sometimes i dont know what to think of short sales. They are getting better and then they are not!

Aug 12, 2011 04:25 AM