Patience is a value as the saying goes, and that saying say is absolutely true in real estate. I had a buyer client get approved for a short sale at the end of June, we put the contract in during the month of March! The sale is still not closed. The fact about short sales is that they take time, no matter what you hear. It is best to prepare yourself for a long wait. If you can stick out the three months (or four, five, … gulp, or six) that it usually can take, you have more patience than most. Buying or selling a home can be nerve racking as it is, now add weeks of being in the dark about whether or not your contract was accepted. Buying short is not for the fault of heart, so if you are going to explore the possibility of it then go "all in" and stick with it.
If you do not know what the short short sale is, it is when a person can not sell a property for more or equal to what amount they owe on the loan (s). If this negative amount is too great for the seller to come to the table with at close, then the seller must ask the bank to "forgive" the difference. A property is required to be identified as a short when it is listed by a REALTOR. That way there are no surprises to a potential buyer, everyone knows what they are getting into before the property is put under contract. A property can be sold for less than the amount owed on a loan and not be a short sale, as long as the seller can find a way to come to the closing table with that money. I have been in this situation, and it closed on the contracted date, so it is really all about getting that bank approval that takes time. In the end though the wait could really pay off, banks will usually take up to 80% of the loan amount in most cases and sometimes even more. As a buyer it may be hard to know that number, but a REALTOR should be able to dig around and get you a good approximation.
So I guess, in essence, a short sale is like that old Miller Beer commercial, "If you've got the time, we've got the beer." Except put "a lot" before "time" and substitute beer for … well you're going to need that beer. Feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email if you have any questions about short sales, I would be happy to help.