Have you discovered a house on short sale that you want as real estate as investment, and want to grab it before nobody does? Before you rush in, it's good to understand the complexities of buying such a property. In particular, here are three assumptions you should make:

The Bank Will Turn You Down At First

Don't start packing your things just because you have identified a house on short sale. The term "short sale" is a misnomer; the sale won't take a short time. The average short sale takes 90 to 120 days, and it is this way because:

  • The seller's bank must approve of the package – this includes a review of the finances, credit score, debts, assets and other similar things.
  • It involves two banks – the process takes longer if they don't cooperate well.
  • The lender may request new or updated information at any time.

Don't forget that it might take time and your offer still may be rejected at the last minute. Therefore, you shouldn't focus on a single property; continue with your search while playing the waiting game. 

The House Is In Neglect

Many short sale properties aren't known for being in great shape. Financial difficulties rarely hit overnight. By the time a property owner puts up his or her house for sale, he or she must have been struggling for some time. Such a person knows that he or she may lose the property in a short sale, so he or she might not take care of it too well.

Even if the structural integrity of the property is great, other things such as the carpet, plumbing or backyard garden may not be so lucky. Worst of all, the seller may not have the motivation to reveal all these issues.

You Won't Manage It on Your Own

The third assumption to make is that you can't handle the purchase without professional help. You need an experienced person who

  • Understands that some documents (such as bank statements) have limited useful lives. You may need new/updated ones if the sale drags on for too long.
  • Can negotiate for a reasonable price.
  • Can push for candor from the seller's agent to know whether he or she is keen to sell the property.

In short, buying a short sale property can be profitable, but it is a long and arduous process. However, you will be in peace and handle the process better if you prepare for it.