Have you considered buying a home/condo advertised as a “short sale”?

A good place to find out the basics is in this article in today’s Journal:

A short sale, which involves buying a house for less than the amount the seller owes the lender, can be time-consuming, frustrating, and — if the lender refuses your offer — ultimately unsuccessful. But if it works, you could be getting a very good deal.

Short sales also require some sophistication, skill, and patience on the part of a real estate agent, so keep that in mind if you decide to bid on this house. If the agent you’ve been using doesn’t want to get involved, ask him or her to refer you to someone who specializes in this sort of work. You also need to hire an attorney experienced in this kind of transaction.

The main issue with a short sale is that, instead of dealing solely with the seller, who is eager to make a deal happen, you’re also dealing with the seller’s lender, who is eager to protect its investment, or at least to get the majority of its money back.

I’ve never worked with a buyer of a short sale. It’s not too common in MA, as far as I know, even in these “dire” times.

Source: Placing a Bid On a Short Sale – By June Fletcher, The Wall Street Journal

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