Nowadays everybody is asking for a deal. Of course that makes sense, that is the name of the game right, buy low and sell high. Usually this ends up in a conversation regarding what they heard on the news about short sales or foreclosures. There is a lot of misinformation out there and confusion with regards to the difference, and specifically what is a short sale. Let me explain: Short Sale -- This is a sale in which the seller tries to get the bank to accept less than is owed on the loan. This is happening quite a bit currently, due to the combination of both people unable to pay their mortgage payments and the recent decline in home values. People are damaging their credit in order to essentially jump ship. As a buyer, one must be aware of the process, as well as be very patient. When you see a new listing on the market that is a short sale, usually that means that the price is not yet approved by the lender. In many instances, they have not even begun the short sale process, and will not until they receive their first offer. What I mean by being aware is that even if you offer exactly what the seller is asking, that does not necessarily mean the bank will approve that number--know that going in. Also, even if they do approve it, the process at the bank could take month's, so one must be flexible and patient. I have been in several short sale deals that took a very long time, and my buyer ended up purchasing something else, while waiting for a response. This is an important point also; I always include a short sale addendum with the purchase offer, which states that none of the contingency time lines, exchange of money, etc will happen until the bank has approved the price and then we will open up escrow. That is important.
Foreclosure-- This is a sale in which the bank is the actual owner of the property. The former owner could not make the payments any longer and the bank foreclosed on the owner and took the property back. This can be a much smoother and straight forward deal.
Please note that in most cases in either type of sale, the bank is not likely to make any repairs or provide any credits for repairs. They are losing money, so don't want to shell out anymore.
There are opportunities out there for foreclosures, short sales, as well as regular sales. I have several buyer client's recognizing this, and able to take advantage, and are getting some truly great deals. Speak to your real estate agent, go in with the facts on each property, and get yourself a deal that you can profit from when the market rebounds; not to mention, a home to enjoy in the interim.