Short-sale in real estate is where the lender is willing to take less for the property than what is owed on the mortgage by the seller. Short sales have become a popular option for the lender because they typically cost less than a foreclosure. These properties can be great deals for buyers because they are sold below current market value. Before accepting an offer, the bank will get an appraisal or a broker's price opinion to determine the value of the property. Then they take slightly less than the appraised value as the sales price. While these properties can be very appealing, there are several things to consider before putting an offer on a short-sale.
•1. The lender requires a pre-approval letter to be submitted with your offer. They want to make sure you are qualified to buy. You can get this document from your loan officer. If you don't have one, ask your family, friends or your real estate agent for recommendations.
•2. The list price you see is not approved by the lender. Typically the lender does not give a guideline on what price they would accept until they receive an actual offer. Sometimes realtors price the property below what the lender would accept to get interest on the property.
•3. It can take 30 to 60 days to get a response to your offer and it can be rejected without a counter if your offer is too low. You can always put another offer in but it can take another 30-60 days to get an answer.
•4. The house will be sold as-is. What you see is what you get. There will no repair money negotiated so you want to have an inspection done before you commit to buying the house.
•5. The lender can take multiple offers on the property and have all of the buyers bid against each other. Decide your top price ahead of time so you won't get caught in the moment and pay too much as the consequence.
•6. The closing date will be determined by the lender. Once you agree on the price, the lender needs another 2-3 weeks to be able to close on the property.
•7. Although you have agreed on the price and the closing date, the lender can still foreclose on the property or sell the loan to another company before your closing. This will cancel your contract and you either have to wait for the property to come back on the market as a foreclosure or start negotiating with the new lender.
The key to buying a short-sale is to be patient and ask a lot of questions from the agent you are dealing with. As long as you are prepared and reserve enough time for the process, you can get a property at a great price.