A short sale is when a home is being sold for less than the owner owes on the home. The seller may or may not be on the hook for the difference between the sales price and what’s owed. Generally, in Arizona, they will not be. The Bank or Mortgagee must approve the sale. Usually these properties are already in the system for a foreclosure.
This is problematic to start with and do not go into this situation without your own buyer representative. In my experience you may run into a seller who has little or no motivation to cooperate. I’ve had the seller agree to the price and then leave on vacation (?) for a month and refuse to sign any paperwork from the lender till they return.
If handled properly by the listing agent, it can run smoothly but right now we have many real estate agents going out and listing short sales and having no idea what they should be doing to make it a viable property.
10 questions to ask when buying a short sale:
- How many mortgages are on the home? More than one will really increase the difficulty (very, very difficult).
- Has a title report been pulled to confirm the number of loans on the property?
- Has the lender approved the listing price?
- Can I see the lender approval of the listing price?
- Has the seller submitted all the necessary paperwork for approval of the short sale?
- Can my Buyer Agent call the lender rep to confirm?
- Has the lender assigned a negotiator for the property?
- Has the lender ordered an appraisal?
- What kind of response time can I expect from the lender?
- How long is it going to take to close?
Our experience has not been very good with short sales. Most are ill prepared for the market. They will take quite awhile to close and in our experience, the bank may pull acceptance at the last moment if they have an appraisal that supports a higher sales price.
If you have a home to sell that is a short sale, you need to find an agent that has the systems to ensure your success. It’s a complicated process and most real estate agents are not equipped to handle a short sale properly. You can benefit though, you will likely be able to get a mortgage again in two years for a short sale versus 7 years on a foreclosure.
Foreclosures for buyers are a whole other animal and are much, much easier to acquire, but that’s another blog post.