short saleShort sales can often be great deals. If you’re house hunting or looking to buy a new home in a new neighborhood, and its listing price seems too good to be true, it might be a short sale.

But it’s not as easy as you might think to buy a short sale. A short sale is when the seller’s lender is accepting a smaller amount on a sale to pay off an existing mortgage. When you offer on a short sale property, while the seller may accept your offer, the lender might not, and that’s important to keep in mind.

Short sales can often take a long time to close, and if you are looking to move into a new home within a quick period of time, you might want to think twice about offering on a short sale.

Before you offer on a property that is a short sale, it’s a good idea to check the public records. It’s always a good idea to do some research. This can help you learn who is in title, if a foreclosure notice has been served, and how much is owed to the lender. If you know how much is owed to the lender, you have a better idea on how much to offer for the property.

If you’ve hired a real estate agent to help you with the house hunt, it’s a good idea to make sure that they have short sale experience if you are looking at short sale homes. If your agent has experience with short sales, they often know and are able to do the things that can speed up the process, and protect you during the short sale process.

Once the seller has accepted your offer, it needs to be sent to the lender for approval. It’s important to remember that you do not have a deal until the lender accepts. Many first-time buyers of short sale properties forget this. Typically the lender will want to see a copy of your earnest money deposit, as well as that you have your own home loan available. Send the lender your loan preapproval letter.

One tip is to make your offer contingent on acceptance and to give the lender a time frame to respond, after which you are free to cancel. It can sometimes take a few months for a lender to accept an offer.

Do not forgo a home inspection with your short sale. This is because a lender will not typically pay for things that a seller would pay for in the case of a normal home sale, so you want to make sure that if you are purchasing a property “as-is” there are no dangerous or expensive flaws.

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