A Quick Buyers Guide to Short Sales

What is a ‘Short Sale’

A short sale occurs when a seller wishes to sell a property that is now worth less than the mortgage and any other indebtedness that is owed on the property, and is asking the lender to forgive all or part of the difference. If the seller is in a position and willing to pay this difference, it is not a short sale.

Who Should Buy a Short Sale:

It can be any one who finds a property that they feel will suit their needs. It can be an investor, a first time home buyer or a second home buyer. The governing factor is that the you must have patience and not need to take possession of the home in a short period of time. If you need to close in less than 3 months or possibly even longer, select a different type of sale.

What Should a Buyer Look for in a Short Sale:

Short sales come in different flavors with differing odds of a successful conclusion.
The best odds are with an owner in a pre-foreclosure situation where the current seller no longer has the assets to continue making payments on the home and it will be foreclosed upon in the future. Even better odds if there is no second mortgage on the home. The lender can’t ask for additional money from a seller without assets and they will prefer to take some loss now, rather than go through the expense of foreclosure at a later time. But, keep in mind; the bank/lender will not sell it for a ridiculously low price if they feel that they can get more after a foreclosure. Can it be bought for less than current market value? Yes, depending on the location from 10% to 25% under market value.

For the seller with a second mortgage, the negotiations will be a bit more involved, but given enough time, with a proper offer, the sale should lead to a successful conclusion.
After the above, come the investor properties. First, those investors that have gone bust or almost bust and have one mortgage are good short sale candidates, followed by those with second mortgages. However, if they have any assets, the short sale can be delayed and very often not completed due to the lender attaching large deficiency notices against the seller which they may not agree to thus causing the short sale to fail.

If you have an indication that the short sale belongs to an investor with considerable assets, be very leery as there is a good chance that the short sale will never happen.
The Short Sale Contract:
Your odds of a successful short sale are much better if you select an agent that knows the short sale process with a good track record. Unfortunately, you can’t always select the listing agent of a short sale and if they do not have much experience and/or short sale knowledge, it can be a very difficult transaction.

Once under way, the short sale is almost the same as any transaction. It is an agreement by a buyer to purchase a certain property from the seller. Both parties sign this agreement (the Purchase and Sale Contract) and now the sale is contingent on the specifics of the contract. In the case of the short sale, probably the important contingency is lender or bank approval. Most short sale contracts will specify that after the initial approval, all time lines will commence after lender approval. There is also a given time for the lender approval that may or may not require adjustment at some later time during the waiting process.

There are many ways to structure a short sale offer and this is where selecting an experienced agent will help your chances of a successful conclusion as well as protecting your interests along with a reasonable escape or withdrawal clause.

The Short Sale Process:

Unfortunately, more often than not, this involves a lot of waiting. A good short sale agent should try to get you updates or status reports every week or so. If they don’t, ask them, but be prepared for no news. When the lender orders an appraisal or BPO (Broker Price Opinion – a simplified appraisal normally performed by a real estate agent), it means that the end is getting closer. Probably (but, not always) within 30 days of an answer.

The Bank/Lender Approval:

This is not a sure thing, and the Bank/Lender could simply say no, and the buyer is back to square one, or they could come back with a counter offer that the buyer can either accept or reject, or, they can simply approve the offer.

After making you wait all of this time, the bank will invariably demand a quick closing. Sometimes trying for as little as a week. Don’t be bullied at this point. You will need to complete inspections and satisfy yourself that the property is in an acceptable condition. If financing is involved, adequate time must be given to complete the financing contingencies.

The Closing:

The hard part is over and you will soon take ownership of your property at a great price. But one more thing to consider, often the lender will use their own attorney or title company to convey the title. They will only be interested in ensuring that they are free of any obligations on the property. They may or may not ensure all other liens or obligations on the property are satisfied. It may be very prudent to have your own attorney review the title and the title policy.

Congratulations if you have enough patience and diligence to complete this process!

If you’re considering purchasing a home, but feel ‘out of touch’ with what’s happening in real estate give us a call today at (772) 323-6996 or visit us on the web at www.GabeSanders.com or www.TreasureCoastFLHomes.com. Our office is located at 1121 SE Ocean Blvd. in Stuart, Florida (Sewall’s Point); please ask for Gabe Sanders or .

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