Short Sale behind the Scenes

Dear Dave,

What goes on behind the scenes with a short sale? We're trying to buy a house that way, but it seems like it's taking forever.

Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

A short sale, of course, is when a mortgage lien holder sells a house short of what it takes to pay off the mortgage, but gives a full release and delivers a clear title to the purchaser anyway.

Let's say you want to buy a house with a $250,000 mortgage for $200,000. In that scenario the lien holder will be taking a $50,000 hit, so the holder has to be convinced that this is as much as they'll be able to get for that particular house.

The lien holder will do what is called "due diligence." It will order inspections and appraisals, and maybe even collect comparables - statistics and documentation on how well homes in that area are selling, and at what price range. That kind of stuff takes time.

The main thing working against you right now, though, is that while the number of short sales has risen dramatically, the number of people handling these transactions has not. Many lien holders are simply overwhelmed and understaffed, and some of the folks they have handling these deals are not exactly experts when it comes to short sales. Hang in there, Jennifer. This could work out really well!

- Dave

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