With so much economic stress and so many distressed properties, the recent recession has generated a huge increase in the number of properties listed as short sales. Buyers should be able to find good deals on short sales, provided they follow a few basic guidelines.
The first is, as it always is, to know what you are doing. It is of vital importance to know just as much (preferably more) than the seller’s agent about dealing with distressed properties. That said, make sure you’re not dealing with an amateur, either. Short sellers often have an incentive to deceive, since it is understood that the property will come with some inherent problems. Research short sale standards and procedures thoroughly before setting out for your first.
The second guideline is that you have to be patient. If you are an agent for a short sale buyer, then make sure your buyer understands that despite the misleading term “short sale”, this process can often take weeks or months to be approved by a bank. Although buying a short sale can often feel like helping a seller in a pinch, it is still a major transaction governed by banks, and these things take time. Make sure you know how long your buyer is willing to wait for the deal to close, and be sure you inform them of the process beforehand.
The third guideline will help enormously with all aspects of the short sale, from the amount of time it takes, to the emotions of everyone involved: communicate, communicate, communicate. Selling property in tough times necessarily means there are more people involved than just the buyer and the seller. You are sure to have a bank, asset managers, loss mitigation agents, and the seller’s agents, among others. The best way to move the process forward quickly while encountering as few speed-bumps as possible is for each and every one of these people involved to be operating from the same page, every day. Make it your responsibility to know and talk to everyone who plays a role in the sale, and make sure that their perception of that role is the same as your perception of it. If everyone communicates openly and honestly (which you cannot expect from others, but you can lead by example and hope), then the deal is certain to be much smoother.
In short: know the process in-and-out, make sure the people you are working with (and for) understand that process and act with according to patience, and communicate every day with everyone you can. Short sales are a good way to get a great deal if you play the game right.