What to Expect When Buying a Short Sale Property
Purchasing a Short-Sale Property
When shopping for a home, you may notice that certain listings are labeled as short sales, short pays or pre-foreclosures. All of these terms mean the same thing: the seller is upside-down on his or her mortgage and is attempting to negotiate a deal with the lender in the hope of avoiding foreclosure.
In this type of sale, the bank (lender) agrees to accept less than the amount owed on the mortgage. The transaction benefits the bank by allowing it to avoid repossessing the home in foreclosure, which is expensive and time-consuming, and it benefits the seller by allowing him or her to avoid the negative credit ramifications of foreclosure.
If you’re interested in buying a property that’s listed as a short sale, here’s what you need to know.
How It Works
Unlike in a foreclosure, the bank does not own the property in a short sale. However, because the bank must approve the sale (because it is the lender, not the seller, who will be taking a loss on the property) it will seem like the buyer is purchasing the property from the bank. Short sale transactions, however, can be much more time-consuming and patience-testing than foreclosure transactions.
In some ways, buying a short-sale property is just like a traditional purchase. However, there are a couple of ways in which the purchase agreement you and your agent draw up are different. The contract will specify that the terms are subject to the mortgage lender’s approval. In a normal transaction, the only party who would need to approve the sale is the seller.
The contract should also state that the property is being purchased “as-is”. While it is acceptable to include language in the contract that allows you to back out of the deal if an inspection reveals considerable problems, in general, you should not expect the bank to lower the price to account for repairs if any problems are revealed. The bank is also unlikely to make any repairs, and the seller, being strapped for cash, is probably even less likely to help out. Given the situation, you’ll likely also need to have enough money for closing costs.
A Waiting Game
If you make an offer on a short sale property, be prepared to wait. Banks are notorious for taking as long as several months to respond to short sale offers.
Better Living Conditions
One advantage to both the bank and the seller is that unlike a bank-owned property, a short sale property is less likely to be trashed or ransacked. The owner will still be living in the home and while the property may be suffering from deferred maintenance because of the seller’s financial situation, the seller is not likely to destroy the place when he or she still lives in it. By contrast, homeowners who lose their properties to foreclosure often take out their frustration on the house as a way of getting back at the bank. If the property is damaged, the bank won’t be able to get as much money when it resells the home.
Along the same lines, because short sale properties are still occupied, they won’t have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous people who have chosen to squat in or vandalize the property. Vandalism can be a common problem with foreclosure properties, especially in lower-income neighborhoods.
Don’t assume the property is a great deal just because it is a short sale, though. Do your own comparable market analysis. The bank is facing a losing transaction, so it will want to minimize its losses and sell the property as close to fair market value as possible. If you can buy a similarly priced property directly from the seller, do it. It will be easier than dealing with a short sale. Also, if you make it to escrow, don’t skip a thorough home inspection.
Make sure your agent is experienced with short sales. Because of the complexity of this type of transaction, you don’t want to work with someone who is unfamiliar with the process. Also, make sure your agent is willing to work with you on a short sale. Some agents won’t want to get involved due to bad past experiences or the poor reputation of short sales.
In addition, try to find out if the listing agent is experienced with short sales. Although the bank is ultimately in control, a listing agent who knows the ropes may be able to facilitate or expedite the transaction.
Haggling Over Prices
Be prepared to raise your offering price. For the seller to increase the odds of the bank going through with the short sale, he or she may try to convince you to up your purchase price. Ultimately, though, the seller has no real authority to approve the selling price. The bank may also counteroffer as it tries to cut its losses.
There is always the chance that the lender might just reject your offer outright, especially if you’ve written a significantly lower priced offer. Or, in the worst case scenario, they might not reply at all.
We have successfully sold over 350 short sales! If you are interested in buying a short sale, we always have some on the market and can help you find one that fits your needs.
Jennifer Young Homes
Keller Williams Realty
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About Jennifer Young
Jennifer Young is the CEO and Team Leader of Jennifer Young Homes with Keller Williams Realty. Jennifer is a highly experienced real estate agent and industry leader specializing in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC market. Jennifer sells Regular Sales, Short Sales, Foreclosures, Rural Residential & Land. Her team has helped hundreds of troubled homeowners for FREE! Call Jennifer today for a free consultation at (703) 651-5655 or email her.
Hear from our clients…
Jennifer Young was a great agent, especially because of the amazing team working behind the scenes. Her and her staff knew so much about short sales.
Jennifer Young sold our home for us in Fairfax, VA and did an incredible job. It was priced right and went under contract in less than 10 days.
We worked with Jennifer Young and her team when short selling our property. They were on-the-ball and completely on top of my case at all times. .