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Blog » Home Sellers » All You Need to Know About Short Sale Homes

All You Need to Know About Short Sale Homes

by Tan Tason
Short Sale Homes

Short-sale homes are a common option for buyers nowadays. A short sale, which enables homeowners to sell their property for less than they owe, may be advantageous to those who cannot pay their mortgage. This prevents the lender and the homeowner from going through the lengthy and expensive legal proceedings associated with a foreclosure.

Short sales can be a good choice for homebuyers looking to save money. However, since this transaction is substantially more sophisticated than the usual sale, it may include far greater risk. So you should be well informed about the short sale process before buying. Whether you’re thinking about a short sale but are curious if it’s the best choice, this article will help you make an educated decision.

Table of Contents

What Is a Short Sale?

A short sale often occurs when a homeowner has financial difficulty and has to sell the house quickly to avoid having the mortgage company foreclose on it. In real estate, it is an offer to acquire a property for less than the current owner’s mortgage amount. A short sale is distinct from purchasing a house at a foreclosure auction or a real estate-owned property (REO), which is a home that the bank truly owns.

If the property’s value has dropped and the mortgage holder still owes more on the loan than the home is worth, the homeowner will need the lender’s approval to make a short sale. In this case, the homeowner may need to sell the house because of negative equity.

The original mortgage lender receives the total selling profits and either forgive the difference or obtains a deficiency judgment, requiring the original borrower to pay the difference. A short sale helps a homeowner and lender avoid financial ruin by taking a loss. But buyers should know that these transactions are only sometimes good choices.

Key Information About Short Sales Homes

Any form of property transaction that a credit company identifies as not having been paid as promised lowers the credit score. Credit scores take a hit after a short sale, foreclosure, or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

The mortgage lender must sign a decision to execute a short sale throughout the procedure before short sales, which also refer as pre-foreclosure sales. The mortgage holder must provide evidence to the lender, usually a bank, demonstrating why a short sale makes sense. Short sales often need a lot of time and paperwork to complete, lasting up to a year.

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure

If a homeowner cannot make their mortgage payments because they have fallen behind or because the value of their property has dropped below their mortgage balance, they may be forced to choose between a short sale and foreclosure. A short sale is different from a foreclosure.

How does foreclosure work?

In a foreclosure, the lender seizes the house when the borrower defaults on payments and then seeks to sell it for enough to recoup their losses. Unlike a short sale, foreclosure is started solely by the lender. In such situations, the lender repossesses the property, then demands an appraisal and lists the property for sale. Foreclosures occur when a homeowner abandons their house.

Lenders prefer speedy foreclosures because they want to get their money out of the property as soon as possible; in some instances, foreclosed properties are even sold at public auction. Homeowners who go through foreclosure must wait anywhere from two to seven years before they are eligible to buy another property, depending on the specifics of their situation.

How does a short sale work?

In a short sale, the lender knows it won’t earn a return on its investment, but it’s a preferred alternative for avoiding foreclosure red tape and complications. During a short sale, the homeowner is usually allowed to remain in the house and, in some instances, may be able to buy another property once the transaction has closed.

Unlike a foreclosure, a short sale requires a lot of work but avoids the worst financial implications of foreclosure, such as having to file for bankruptcy, having your credit score ruined, or forcing you to leave the house.

Pros and Cons of a Short Sale

A short sale is a win-win situation because it benefits all parties involved— the buyer, the seller, and the lender — to varying degrees and avoids worse outcomes. A short sale can prevent foreclosure and its adverse effects on your credit score if you are a seller. If the homeowner can convince the lender to declare the loan “paid in full” to the credit reporting agencies, a short sale is preferable to foreclosure.

The buyer saves money on the property, but the property likely has issues, and the transaction must go through extensive red tape to close. A lender may also insist that a buyer cover extra closing fees customarily shouldered by the vendor.

The lender incurs a loss, but less than it would have in the event of being foreclosed. Simply put, a short sale occurs when the seller’s net revenues are less than the sum required to cover the outstanding mortgage balance plus all selling expenses. If the agreement were to go through, all parties due money would have to settle for less or nothing.

The advantages of a short sale for sellers:

  • After the transaction, all debts are settled, and you have no financial obligations. The debt is considered “settled” by the lending institution.
  • You can stay out of foreclosure.
  • You will have complete control over the timelines and circumstances.
  • Your credit will suffer less than it would after a foreclosure.
    Your credit history won’t show up anywhere.
  • The process of buying a new house will go more quickly than in foreclosure.
  • In a short sale, the lender pays agents’ commissions instead of the seller’s.

The advantages of a short sale for buyers:

  • Buyers pay a low price for a house they otherwise could not afford.
  • Many banks provide attractive financing conditions to short-sale property buyers. The lender may offer a reduced interest rate or other buyer-friendly terms to sell the property and prevent future expenditures.
  • Since this transaction is in the interest of both the buyer and the seller, their spirit of collaboration may speed up the exchange and allow the new owner to move in sooner.

The disadvantages of a short sale for sellers:

  • The approval procedure might be lengthy.
  • Both a short sale and a foreclosure may have financial consequences.
  • A short sale requires additional paperwork.
  • Although a seller plays a significant role in a house transaction, the lender is the only party with authority to negotiate the purchase price.
  • The seller will not get any earnings from the sale of his house.
  • A seller must finish a waiting period after a short sale to become eligible for a new mortgage.

The disadvantages of a short sale for buyers:

  • Due to the lender’s participation, a short sale is time-consuming and often takes longer than a regular sale.
  • The buyer is not aware of the condition of the house or the quality of the transaction.
  • The buyer should often spend much more money on renovations and repairs.
Pros and Cons of a Short Sale

Is a Short Sale the Best Option for Selling My House?

If you’re concerned about going through a foreclosure, a short sale can be a good choice. The choice to proceed with a short sale is based on your circumstances and what will most likely benefit you in the long run. There may not be many options left if you cannot afford your mortgage payments and if house prices in your neighborhood have fallen. A short sale will affect your credit, but it will be more beneficial than foreclosure if you’re serious about selling the house and paying back part of what you owe.

Is Buying a Short-Sale Home a Good Idea?

Short-sale properties may be an excellent bargain for buyers, but it’s crucial to remember that they’re often in need of repair, so the buyer should be prepared for a lot of work after the transaction closes. Short sales might be time-consuming. Additionally, the bank may reject the short sale and go forward with the foreclosure process instead if it thinks doing so would be more profitable. To determine if a short sale is ideal for you, consider your requirements and the property characteristics you’re interested in.

How Long Does It Take To Complete a Short Sale?

The time it takes to complete a short sale might vary widely, from a few weeks to several months. Short sales are complex transactions; therefore, they take longer to complete, and the approval procedure might take up to six months due to various factors. In addition, the short sale offer must be reviewed by the original lender before acceptance.

An experienced real estate agent or lawyer is crucial during a short sale since they have the skills and experience to move things through quickly and efficiently. Your chances of completing the purchase will rise if you have a real estate agent who is familiar with how short sales operate and has negotiated with others.

Ways to Minimize the Risk of a Short Sale Failing

Short sales are complicated, and one of the most important ways to lower their risk is to find the optimal times to start and end a short position and adhere to those set entry and exit points. You must ensure that the lender and other lienholders are prepared to release the collateral even after the lender approves the short sale. The length of time this takes might increase if there are several lienholders. Keep the following on hand to minimize the possibility of a failed short sale:

Hardship letter

A letter detailing the seller’s current financial situation and why they cannot continue making mortgage payments. It should contain information that demonstrates why you cannot make payments. A borrower who has lost their job is struggling with a severe illness, or has exhausted their resources has a greater chance of approving their loan modification request.

Proof of earnings and assets

The seller must submit bank statements and tax documentation dating back at least two years. This information must show that the seller has no accessible cash, including retirement savings, to pay down their outstanding debt.


A comparative market analysis (CMA) uses the values of comparable properties to determine the worth of the house you are attempting to sell. The research should include similar homes sold in the last six months.

List of liens

The seller is required to give an up-to-date list of any liens on the property. Some sellers may only be in debt due to their principal mortgage, while others may have various loans.

Short Sale Alternatives

A loan modification is a choice that changes the conditions of your loan to lower the monthly payments. Speak with your lender about the possibility of a modified payment schedule or loan modification before submitting yourself to a short sale. One of these choices may enable you to remain in your house and recover financially. In contrast to refinancing, loan modifications often do not need a house assessment, making them simpler to get if you are behind on your mortgage.

How to Buy a Short-Sale Home?

To successfully complete a short sale, a number of steps are required.

Persuade the lender

The lender must first consent to the short sale. Homeowners in financial distress considering a short sale should determine whether their lender is open to negotiating terms. In a typical sale, the seller would use the money from the sale to settle the mortgage. In a short sale, the house sells for less than the seller owes; therefore, the lender does not get the whole amount of money.

Prove incapacity to pay the mortgage

The seller must demonstrate that they have no other options and cannot continue making mortgage payments. Lenders are more likely to provide their permission in this case if they have no intention of selling the property themselves throughout the foreclosure process.

Set a price

The price of the residence must be per the market worth. Short sales occur when the market is struggling, and the home’s value has fallen. When determining an asking price, remember to include the cost of selling the property in the amount you need to earn from the transaction.

Gather the documents

Gather the necessary documentation to establish to the lender that you are experiencing financial difficulty. These might include divorce papers, bank statements, medical bills, pay stubs, and termination letters from a former job.

Disclose the short sale

A house must disclose upfront when it is being marketed for less than the mortgage balance. Buyers should be informed that the mortgage debt is more than the asking price and that they will have to negotiate with the lender and the seller.

Present your proposal to the bank

Once you’ve found a buyer and gathered all the relevant documentation, you should present your proposal and the buyer’s offer to the bank. In addition to the documentation of your financial difficulties, your proposal should contain a statement detailing the circumstances that prohibit you from completing your mortgage payments.

Inform a lender about your financial condition with caution since if he rejects the short sale, he may utilize your financial information throughout the foreclosure process to extort money from you. Remember that you should contact an attorney, a tax expert, and a real estate agent throughout the process.

The Short Sale Procedure for Buyers

Although a short sale follows a similar procedure to a regular transaction, it is more complex because of the lender’s participation. The steps that often go into a short sale are listed below.

Get financing approved

The first step, like with any house purchase, is getting approved. Getting pre-approved is a good idea for buyers, but it’s especially crucial in a short sale since the lender wants to ensure the new buyer can buy the house.

Find short sale opportunities

Search internet listings, courthouse listings, and legal advertising, or utilize a skilled buyer’s agent to find pre-foreclosures in your region. Check the mortgage balance and estimated home worth to see where to start. It might be a wise investment if it looks high since the seller may have problems getting out from under the mortgage.

Visit the house

Check out the property, evaluate its current state, and calculate a ballpark figure for necessary repairs or upgrades.

Do your research

Before making an offer, gather as much information as possible about the property since you’ll want to benefit from the transaction as an investor or even a short-term homeowner. It is necessary to research recent sales in the same neighborhood to determine the home’s true market worth.

Asking real estate agents is another way to learn the pricing of properties now for sale and those that have just sold. Because they have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), they are an excellent source for learning the worth of a property.

Find all mortgages and liens

Find out any liens on the property from the seller or the agent, including which lender is the primary lien holder. Additionally, confirm that there are no undisclosed liens on the property.

Determine the funding

You must choose how you will pay for the property. The current lender may be prepared to provide a loan to you if you have an excellent credit profile. They can expedite the loan application process by using the information included in the short sale paperwork.

Make contact with the lender

Before you can talk about the mortgage problem with the lender, you must first get the homeowner to fill out and sign an authorization letter (typically one that has to be notarized). Afterward, you or your agent should contact the lender’s loss mitigation or resource recovery division.

Fill out the lender’s short sale application

Short sale applications are often available from your lender; if none is, you should check what paperwork is required before applying.

Compile the proposal

Application and authorization letter, purchase and sale contract, hardship letter, property value statement, detailed explanation of expenses and obligations, and settlement statement are typical components of the proposal package.

Negotiate and make an offer

You must utilize your understanding of the neighborhood house values to make an offer on the property while considering what the lender would think. Lenders often respond to offers with either outright rejection or counteroffers. Remember that the lender is still attempting to reclaim as much of the outstanding mortgage debt as possible, even if you may consider the short sale as a way to get a deal on the house. Determine your total maximum budget for the property purchase and be willing to walk away if the lender doesn’t accept this amount.

Complete the transaction

Once you, the seller, and the lender have established an arrangement that everyone is satisfied with, you should get it put in writing and registered.

Short Sale Buyer Tips

Unlike a traditional property sale, the seller, in a short sale, doesn’t have to fulfill any of the conditions usually involved with such a transaction. Due to the absence of standard disclosures in short sales, it is up to the potential buyer to examine the property and discover any defects. Also, since short sales take more paperwork than typical home transactions, buyers should ensure they have enough time to complete the procedure before the deal closes.

  • Visit the property to see whether any repair or upkeep is needed
  • Estimate the cost of repairs
  • Research on legal and insurance information
  • Ensure that your offer is reasonable
  • Make sure to account for enough time in your plans
  • Provide as much cash as possible
  • Offer to cover the seller’s closing fees
  • Enlist the help of a real estate specialist


In most cases, a short sale will stop a home from going into foreclosure on the homeowner. Homebuyers might take advantage of the property market’s precariousness by paying less than the market price for a house. However, because of the lengthy procedure, both buyers and sellers must be patient. A knowledgeable real estate agent can assist you in determining a reasonable offer and negotiating with the bank.


There are no hard and fast regulations about how long a short sale may go before being terminated. As long as the short seller continues to pay their margin interest, the lender of the shorted shares has the right to demand that the investor return the shares at any time and with no warning. However, this seldom occurs in reality.

A short sale may be an option when a homeowner faces financial hardship and realizes they can no longer afford their mortgage. Rather than waiting for the bank to foreclose on the house, the homeowner initiates the short sale process by submitting an application with the lender.

Short selling is not an illegal trading practice in and of itself. Short sales carry a significant risk but may provide very high profits.

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