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  • Writer's pictureChris Goff

Understanding Short Sales in Real Estate

In the world of real estate, there are many terms and jargon that can be confusing to the uninitiated. One such term is a "short sale." Despite its somewhat misleading name, a short sale can be a lengthy and complex process. This blog post aims to demystify what a short sale is and how it works in real estate.

What is a Short Sale?

In simplest terms, a short sale is a real estate transaction where the homeowner sells their property for less than the amount still owed on the mortgage loan. This type of sale is typically used as a last resort to avoid foreclosure when a homeowner is unable to keep up with their mortgage payments and the home's market value has dropped below the outstanding loan amount.

The Short Sale Process

A short sale involves multiple steps and parties, including the homeowner (seller), potential buyers, the lender (or lenders if there's more than one mortgage), and often a real estate agent experienced in short sales. Here's a simplified overview of the process:

1. Homeowner's Hardship: A homeowner must demonstrate a financial hardship that makes them unable to continue making mortgage payments. This could be due to job loss, medical emergencies, divorce, or other significant life changes.

2. Lender's Approval: The homeowner contacts their lender to discuss the possibility of a short sale. If the lender agrees, the homeowner then prepares a short sale package, which includes financial statements, a hardship letter, and other related documents.

3. Listing and Selling the Property: The home is listed for sale, typically with a real estate agent who knows the short sale process. When an offer comes in, it's not the homeowner but the lender who must approve the sale price since they're the ones taking the loss.

4. Closing the Sale: If the lender approves the offer, the sale can proceed to closing. The proceeds of the sale go to the lender (not the homeowner).

Potential Consequences with Short Sales

While a short sale can help a homeowner avoid foreclosure, it's not without its drawbacks. A short sale will negatively affect the homeowner's credit score, though typically less severely than a foreclosure. It's also important to note that the homeowner might still be responsible for paying the difference between the sale price and their loan amount, depending on the laws in their state.

Moreover, a short sale can be a lengthy process, often taking several months to complete. It requires patience from all parties involved: the seller, the buyer, and the lender.

Avoiding Short Sales: Working with Real Estate Investors

In the real estate world, homeowners facing financial difficulties often consider a short sale as a last resort to avoid foreclosure. However, there's another option that could offer a faster and potentially more beneficial solution – working with real estate investors. This blog post explores how partnering with real estate investors can help homeowners sidestep the complexity and potential drawbacks of a short sale.

The Alternative: Real Estate Investors

Real estate investors buy properties with the intent of earning a return on their investment either through rental income, resale, or both. They often have the resources to purchase properties quickly and are regularly on the lookout for potential deals. Here's how working with real estate investors can help homeowners avoid a short sale:

Quick Transactions

Unlike traditional buyers who often need to secure financing, investors typically have cash on hand, which means they can close deals quickly. This speed can be beneficial for homeowners facing a looming foreclosure deadline.


Real estate investors are usually open to various types of transactions that can help homeowners avoid a short sale. For example, they might offer 'subject-to' deals, where they take over the mortgage payments without changing the existing loan, giving homeowners time to find alternative accommodation. Click here to learn more about subject-to.

Fair Market Value

Investors aim to buy low and sell high, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll undercut homeowners. Many investors are willing to pay fair market value for properties, especially if they see potential for a good return on investment. Find out what your home is worth at REIPro.

No Need for Repairs

Selling to an investor often means selling the property 'as is.' Unlike traditional buyers, who may require a home inspection and certain repairs or upgrades, investors typically handle any necessary renovations themselves.

How to Work with Real Estate Investors

If you're considering selling your home to an investor, here are a few steps to follow:

1. Research Local Investors: Look for reputable real estate investors in your area. Check their reviews and ask for references.

2. Understand Your Home's Value: Get an idea of your home's fair market value so you can negotiate effectively. You might want to hire an appraiser for an accurate assessment.

3. Consult Professionals: Before making any decisions, consult with a real estate attorney or financial advisor to understand the implications of selling to an investor.

In conclusion, while a short sale can be a way out of a difficult financial situation, it's not the only option. By working with real estate investors, homeowners can potentially avoid the complexities of a short sale and navigate their financial challenges more smoothly. As always, professional advice is crucial before making any significant financial decisions.


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