Short sales often look like other listings in the MLS, except they may have a lower asking price than comparable properties.
The term "short sale" is a bit of a misnomer, though, as this type of transaction can take much longer to complete than a standard home sale.
The buying process is similar to a standard purchase. You still apply for financing the same way, and order inspections the same way, for instance. But complications in the selling process aren't uncommon, and you'll need patience and a solid real estate agent to deal with them.
The good news, though, is that times have changed. Many banks have streamlined their processes for short sales, making it much simpler and less time consuming for buyers and sellers. Market data shows that the time it takes to close a short sale has steadily decreased over the past few years.
Why you need an experienced agent
For many reasons, choosing a real estate agent who has experience with short sales makes a tremendous difference. An experienced agent may already have the right contacts within the lender's local office, and most likely has already helped buyers through the process.
Working with an agent who understands the short sale process saves you stress and time spent dealing with obstacles that often come up along the way.
Tips for choosing a top-notch agentUsing an agent is important in any real estate transaction, and even more so in a short sale. A skilled agent will be able to prepare for obstacles and move through them as quickly as possible.
It's equally important to be comfortable with your agent and use all the same tips noted in the Tips on Choosing and Working with a Realtor.
Ultimately, your agent can mean the difference between a successful short sale and a huge, frustrating disappointment.