When is a Short Sale a Great Deal?

When is a short sale a good deal?

Short sales are not as plentiful as they once were, so be sure you are willing to undertake this lengthy process. 

Short sales can snag a great property for a buyer at a screaming deal…sometimes.
Short sales can take months and months before the bank accepts an offer, it can be one of the most aggrivating purchases you can make, and it isn’t always your best deal. If you would like more detailed information about Short Sales, read on…

Buyers make the mistake of assuming because it is a short sale

it is automatically their best deal.

Sometimes they’re right. Many times the seller owes such large amounts to the bank and the bank(s) price the home based on what they are willing to take, not what the current market dictates.

So, in a nutshell here is how the typical short sale works:
Seller decides/needs to sell, they owe more on the home than they can sell it for. Maybe they bought at the top, maybe they borrowed against the home – either way their loan is too high.
The seller goes through a difficult process to get the bank to agree to allow a short sale
Bank agrees to a short sale, home is placed on the market.

Some sellers continue to maintain the home, others do not
Short sale homes are sometimes not available to show very easily, or are not listed with the local brokerage ( have to wonder about their motives – to sell it or squat until they are booted out?)
Most banks won’t tell the Seller or the Agent what they feel an acceptable price is, and it is left up to the agent to list and price the property to sell.

Some agents price the property to reflect market value, some go just below

and some properties are priced like a K-Mart blue light special.

Banks will conduct a BPO – Broker Price Opinion of what the property pricing should be. This is based on closed sales within a given area. This number can depend on which properties the broker uses for comparison. Did they use a good range of sold properties or just the distressed ones?
The process:
The short sale process can take months and months to complete. There is no standard processing time or procedure the banks follow. Many times the bank will not even look at any offers for weeks and weeks. The Buyer’s agent has no ability to communicate with the bank – the listing agent often has spotty communications with the bank. You place the offer and wait, and wait and wait.

Many Buyers get anxious and become tired of waiting. Many just walk away, so don't think just because the MLS status says "Under third party review" that it's a done deal. In Utah, earnest money is not required of the Buyer until acceptance by the bank, so it is easy to walk away. The banks don’t always use logic when choosing the offer they like. You could give them a full priced cash offer closing in 3 weeks and they might choose a lower financed offer closing in 5 weeks because it serves their purposes better – or maybe they are just too busy and approve the first one they grab off the pile on their desk! Plan on longer than you think it will take. Don’t give up your rental until you have bank acceptance and loan approval.

Things to ask:
When you are working with an experienced buyer’s agent, they will do the research to find out if this property is viable. Here are some of the questions your agent should get answered for you prior to getting emotionally invested in a home:

  • Where is the bank in the short sale process
  • Do they have any offers currently?
  • Is the agent planning on submitting multiple offers?
  • Have they had past offers and how has the bank responded?
  • Is this home priced in a reasonable range to make it a good deal and worth the wait?

If the short sale process has just started, the bank is less likely to take a low ball offer and will be more likely to try and get the highest price possible. If there are offers in currently that can make the possibility of your offer getting accepted lower. Sometimes the bank will work with the first offer until it dies or closes, then move on to the next. If the seller is planning on submitting multiple offers you know you will have some competition to face and should offer accordingly. How the bank has responded to past offers can be an indicator of how long the process could take. If the home is in a $700,000 neighborhood and is priced at $850,000, chances of getting a screaming deal price are slim and none – at least not right away.

Contact me and I can help you through this confusing and frustrating process. 

Heather Feldman

Equity Real Estate Luxury Group


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