A short sale occurs when a property sells for less than what is still due on the homeowner’s mortgage. Thus, the seller will come up “short” when paying off his or her lender. Buyers may think they’ve nabbed a bargain. But the wary home buyer will consider all of the factors involved in a short sale, including those that are less often discussed.
Because the short sale is likely occurring due to financial distress that makes it difficult for the seller to pay off his mortgage, the seller’s lender will need a say in the process. If you’re wondering why a lender would ever agree to a short sale, it does happen… on occasion. If the loss from a short sale would be less than the loss resulting from initiating a foreclosure, then the lender might agree. However, be ready for a long and arduous approval process. While a traditional home purchase process will usually take a month or so from offer to closing, some short sales take up to a year to finalize!
If you’re handy, a fixer-upper might be just the opportunity you want! But for those of us with two left hands, a short sale may prove to be more expensive than we’d originally thought. Because of the nature of short sales, the sellers won’t likely be coming from a place of wanting to sink their own capital into repairs and maintenance. Be ready for some added repair costs after closing.
It is entirely possible that at the end of an extremely long process, the sale might fall through. Or you might receive a counter offer at a much higher price than you can afford. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting months for a response to your offer letter, only to finally be told “no”. If you’re a frequent real estate investor, a little bit of lost time may not be a big issue for you. But if you’re shopping for a home for your family to live in, don’t forget to factor the potential cost of futile efforts into the equation.
Is a short sale right for you? It all depends! As with all real estate deals, go into it with your eyes open, and with a good realtor at your side.