6 Tips to Selling Your Flip Even Quicker

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One of the keys to making a profit on a fix and flip is to sell as quickly as possible right after rehabbing is complete. The longer it takes to sell the place, the less money will be left in your pocket. When you factor in the carrying costs and the potential for market conditions to fluctuate, you stand a much better chance of reaping a higher profit if you sell quickly.

Here are some tips to help you unload your flip faster for a heftier profit.

1. Renovate Specifically For Your Target Market

What buyers in one area might want may be completely different from what buyers in another neighborhood might be looking for. Your renovations should reflect what the target market wants or can afford. For instance, what buyers in the downtown area might expect could be different than what buyers in the suburbs.

Make smart renovation choices when updating your investment property, and think carefully about who your target buyer is and what their must-haves are. Ideally, you want to implement the characteristics that buyers need without breaking your budget while still reaping a sizeable ROI when you sell. By offering the traits that your target audience is looking for, you’ll be able to find a willing buyer much faster.

2. Price it Right

Before you even think about buying a home to fix and flip, you need to find out how much you can realistically sell it for once it’s been rehabbed. You need to work backwards with the financials of the project in order to make sure you will profit when all is said and done.

There’s no sense in taking on a project if it’s going to cost you more to purchase and fix the property compared to what you can sell it for. You won’t be able to price the home according to how much you spent fixing it up. That’s where researching comparable properties in the area becomes extremely important.

That said, you will need to make sure that the listing price of your rehabbed home is at market value. Buyers will probably notice the price of the home before they even notice what it looks like. Just because you’ve included all the bells and whistles doesn’t mean that buyers will necessarily be willing to pay a premium for them. If you want to sell quickly, you need to price the home based on what the current market dictates. Be sure to consider what is currently on the market as well as what has sold in the recent past when coming up with your listing price to ensure a quick sale.

3. Have the Home Professionally Staged

Now is not the time to skimp on your investment. You’ve gone so far as to spend a lot of money buying and fixing the place up, so why stop short of presenting it in the most attractive light to your pool of buyers? People who are looking to purchase a home want to have some sort of emotional connection to it, and staging can help bridge that gap.

Presentation is super important when it comes to finding the right buyer and making a quick sale, and professional home staging is often the critical component that’s needed to achieve that goal. Rather than leaving the home vacant and hoping buyers are able to visualize how the place could look when it’s fully furnished and decorated, you can do that hard work for them by having the home professionally staged.

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4. Carefully Evaluate the Final Product

Hopefully, you’ll hire reputable contractors who are good at what they do, but it’s still wise to keep tabs on every phase of the project to make sure the work is being done as per instructions and in a timely manner. As such, you should make yourself available to frequently visit the property as the work is getting done. Before the contractors are off the hook, make sure you do a final walk-through to see if there are any loose ends that need to be attended to.

Once the work is complete, have the home professionally cleaned from top to bottom. You don’t want buyers to walk into your home if there are still remnants of dust and other debris left behind from all the construction that was done. The house needs to be in immaculate condition before the first buyer walks through the front door. Any issues that haven’t been addressed could potentially turn off buyers and take longer to sell.

5. Don’t Forget Curb Appeal

As important as the interior is to a successful fix and flip, the exterior cannot be overlooked. You may have revamped the exterior by updating the window shutters, adding a new roof, or refacing the walls, but there’s a lot more that goes into curb appeal than just that.

Landscaping can make a massive difference to the look and feel of a home. In fact, you should consider dedicating a big chunk of your budget to adding greenery to your outdoor space. Adding trees, bushes, flower beds, hardscaping, and ensuring that the grass is mowed and free of weeds can do wonders for the home’s exterior and overall curb appeal, so don’t overlook this critical piece.

6. Hire a Real Estate Agent Experienced in Marketing and Selling House Flips

A big part of profiting from a fix and flip is getting it off the market as soon as possible after listing it, and the best way to do that is to have an experienced real estate agent on your team to market the property and attract the right pool of buyers. Unless you have a real estate license yourself and are experienced with selling homes in your market, you are much better off having a professional take care of this job for you.

Not only do agents have the skill and know-how to effectively market your property, they also tend to have contacts in the area who are crucial for generating some buzz and interest in your property. If you want to make sure your flip sells quickly, you absolutely need to have a real estate agent tackle this critical part for you.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to selling a fix and flip, timing is everything. Every day that goes by without a sale is more money leaking from your pockets. Keep the above tips in mind to help speed up the selling process and maximize the profits from your rehabbing project.

6 Costly Home Inspection Blunders Buyers Should Avoid

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A big part of making a prudent buying decision is ensuring that you know what you’re getting. When it comes to buying a house, you want to takes steps to find out if there are any issues with it. If there are, you’ll want to identify how serious the problems are and whether or not they will influence your decision to go through with the deal.

That’s where a home inspection comes into the picture. It provides you with the opportunity to bring in a professional to check out the property in great detail to uncover any problems with the home that the seller may not have even been aware of. Any problems that are identified can be brought back to the table for renegotiation.

Unless you are a home inspector yourself, you’d be well advised to hire an expert who actually has some experience in this realm. But bringing an inspector on board is just the starting point. As the buyer, you need to tackle a few responsibilities as well in order to ensure that the process is a successful one.

Unfortunately, many buyers make a few seemingly insignificant yet potentially costly mistakes when it comes to home inspections. Don’t make these same mistakes.

1. Not Ensuring That the Inspector is Qualified

There are plenty of individuals out there who may claim to have the qualifications to inspect a home, but are they actually licensed home inspectors? It’s not uncommon for contractors or others involved in the home construction industry to say that they’re capable and competent when it comes to fully and adequately inspect a property, but they may not necessarily come with the qualifications that you will want them to have for this important job.

Make sure to check into the backgrounds of inspectors and identify if they are licensed and insured before you narrow down your choices. Interview two or three inspectors to see how experienced they are, what equipment they use, the types of components that they inspect, how far they’re willing to dig to uncover issues, and what their price is.

Speaking of the latter, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest price. In the grand scheme of things, a home inspection is a drop in the bucket, so don’t settle for the cheapest price if it’s going to compromise the actual inspection.

2. Not Going to the Inspection

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Don’t wait for the inspection report to find out if there is anything wrong with the property. Instead, you should book off a few hours out of your day to attend the home inspection. This will give you the chance to see up close what the inspector is doing and ask any questions along the way.

The inspector will be able to explain to you in simple terms what issues that may be identified rather than having to depend on potentially complex terminology that’s used in the report. When you do get to read over the inspector’s notes, you’ll be better able to understand it.

Don’t worry about getting in the inspector’s way. A reputable inspector will actually expect you to be present. If they don’t want you there, that may be a red flag that they could possibly cut corners if they’re on their own.

3. Not Asking Questions

There’s no point in being at the inspection if you’re going to stay quiet. Take advantage of the appointment and ask questions that you may have. That’s the perfect time to get the answers you need right on the spot. You’ll find it a lot easier to get advice in person instead of from the inspection report. As already mentioned, a professional inspector will expect to be pressed with questions and will be happy to take the time to answer them.

4. Not Reviewing the Inspection Report

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Speaking of the report, you’d be well advised to go through it even if you believe you’ve had all your questions answered about the property. It’s quite possible that you may not have inquired about any possible issues that may be in the report.

By reviewing the document carefully, you’ll have the chance to spot something you may not have been aware of before. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to call up the inspector and have the issue explained in further detail. You’ll definitely want to know about any problems with the home that could possibly warrant a trip back to the negotiating table.

5. Not Hiring Specialists if the Need Arises 

Home inspectors are very good at what they do and are able to identify a host of issues that the average buyer would likely not spot. That said, they are not specialized in any one particular component of a home unless they hold specific certifications and licenses.

If a specific system or components of the home appears to be problematic, you may want to call in professionals who specialize specifically in that department, especially if your inspector recommends it.

6. Forgoing a Home Inspection Altogether

Out of all the contingencies that can be found in a purchase agreement, a home inspection is one of the most common, and for good reason. This is the only chance you’ll get to find out if there is anything potentially wrong with the home before you commit yourself to buying it. Even if the home is new, don’t waive the inspection assuming that there can’t be anything wrong with new construction.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of aspects of the home buying process that can be pretty stressful, and the home inspection is one of them. For buyers, there’s always the concern that major deal-breaking issues will be found. That said, an inspection is a necessary part of the home buying process and can actually give you some peace of mind knowing that you’re fully aware of all issues that the property may have, and make the appropriate plans to deal with them.

Considering how important the home inspection is to the process, you want to be sure that you make the most of it and avoid making any potentially expensive mistakes.

4 Ways to Pull the Equity Out of Your Home

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If you’ve got a big expense to pay for, you may not necessarily have to take out a personal loan if you don’t have the liquid cash to cover it. Instead, you may be able to pay for the expense with the equity you’ve built up in your home, if you have any.

If you owe less on your mortgage compared to what your home is currently valued at, then you have equity in your home that you can tap into if you need a big chunk of liquid cash. Maybe you want to put in a pool, gut the kitchen, or even take a big vacation. Whatever the reason for your need for the cash, your home’s equity might be just the source to get it from.

Here are some ways to pull the equity out of your home.

1. Second Mortgage

Also frequently referred to as a home equity loan, a second mortgage essentially means that you’re taking out another mortgage on top of your existing one, which will come with its own terms, amortization period, and interest rate. It’s the simplest way to tap into your home’s equity, and is paid out in a lump sum.

Like your first mortgage, you’ll be paying back the loan in equal installments with a fixed rate, typically over 15 years. Once you have paid it off in its entirety, you will no longer have access to your equity from that particular loan. If you ever need more cash in the future and would like to go this route, you would have to take out another second mortgage at that time.

2. Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

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Unlike a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) provides you with revolving credit, which means you can tap into the equity over and over again as you need it, up to a certain limit. Your HELOC will expire at a date determined by your lender, and the interest rate attached to it is typically adjustable, which means it may fluctuate over the course of the loan.

Rather than interest being charged on the entire available equity, only the money you withdraw from your home equity will be charged. As you pay that borrowed amount down, you can continue to borrow it on a revolving basis.

If you take out the entire equity amount out at once and have only been paying the interest portion over the first 10 years of the HELOC, the loan will change over to a payment combining both principal and interest over the following 20-year repayment period.

This is a very flexible loan arrangement, and works similar to a credit card in that money can be drawn upon when needed and paid back over the course of the loan period, and it does not typically come with any closing costs. However, if the value of your home decreases at some point for whatever reason, your lender may reduce the credit line to the balance that you currently owe, which means you would no longer be able to make further withdrawals.

3. Cash-Out Refinance

Unlike a home equity loan – which is essentially a second mortgage – a cash-out refinance involves taking out a new first mortgage loan that you can use to pay off another mortgage. With this funding arrangement, you would refinance your home for a bigger amount than what you currently owe on your existing mortgage, and the difference can be taken as cash.

Cash-out refinances are often more expensive than the other alternatives in terms of closing costs are concerned, but they can be added to the loan rather than having to pay them upfront.

4. Reverse Mortgage

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Homeowners who are age 62 and above may be eligible for a reverse mortgage – also referred to as a ‘home equity conversion mortgage’ (HECM) – which allows borrowers to tap into their homes’ equity. These loan types are backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and are typically used by seniors to cover the cost of health services throughout retirement.

Aside from age, the only other requirement for approval is the equity in the home. There are no income or credit requirements for HECMs. No monthly payments are required, and the equity may be available in a lump sum, a monthly annuity, or a credit line. They may be used for first or second mortgages on the home.

A reverse mortgage is repaid when the homeowner sells the home or when the property ceases to act as the primary residence for at least 12 months. Homeowners cannot borrow more money than what the home is currently worth according to market conditions. As such, the home may need to be appraised prior to a reverse mortgage being approved.

It should be noted that the closing costs associated with reverse mortgages are typically higher than other types of loans because the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) fee needs to be paid upfront. There is also the annual mortgage insurance premium that needs to be paid yearly, which is 1.25%.

Heirs of homeowners should be aware that reverse loans need to be repaid, typically within six months, when the homeowner no longer lives there or passes away. Oftentimes the loan is paid off with the proceeds from the sale of the home.

The Bottom Line

Homeownership certainly comes with its perks, and pulling the equity from the home to fund large expenses is just one of them. If you’re in need of a lump sum of cash to cover a big cost, tapping into your home’s equity may be a viable option. Be sure to speak with your mortgage specialist to find out which option is right for you.

Are You Ready to Go From Renting to Owning?

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For many Americans, homeownership is a major goal in life. While many may be content renting into the foreseeable future, many others hope to one day have their name on title of a property they can call their own.

If you’re currently renting and are contemplating buying some time soon, there are a few questions you should ask yourself first.

Are You Emotionally Ready For the Responsibility?

Before you even consider the possibility of moving onto homeownership, make sure you’re emotionally prepared for it. Buying a home is a big deal and a huge financial investment. Unlike renting, you can’t just end your lease, pack up your things and go when you feel the need for a change on a whim.

The responsibilities that come with homeownership are lengthy, which is why it’s critical for you to do a lot of thinking and meditate on the subject before you make the move.

Do You Have a Reliable Job and Steady Income?

You might be making some good money right now that would help support a mortgage, but how steady and reliable is your job? While most careers are never entirely guaranteed forever, some employment statuses are much more secure than others. For instance, if you’re only on contract with an employer and are not an actual full-time employee, you could be without work once your contract comes to an end and your employer decides not to renew it.

The same goes for your income. Is it steady, or does it have a tendency to fluctuate in either direction? Ideally, your income should be predictable into the future. That way you can better assess whether or not you’ll be able to comfortably make your mortgage payments well into the future.

Is Your Credit Score Healthy?

Your mortgage lender will look at a number of things before deciding to approve you for a home loan, and one of them is your credit score. Unfortunately, many homebuyer hopefuls have no idea what their credit scores are, and wind up disappointed when their lenders deny them for a mortgage because of a low score.

Any credit mistakes that you’ve made in the recent past – such as missing payment deadlines or not making payments in full – can pull your score down and inevitably make it hard for you to get approved for a mortgage.

Before you decide to buy a home, get a copy of your credit report from one of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – which you are allowed to get for free once every 12 months without affecting your rating. Check it over to see if there are any mistakes. If you spot any, you can dispute them. Even cleaning up one mistake can add a few ticks to your score, which can really help.

Make sure you’re on top of the game and are responsible for your debt, as this will show lenders that you’re competent and qualified enough to make good on your mortgage payments should you be approved.

Do You Have Enough Money For a Down Payment?

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The more you can put towards your home loan in the form of a down payment, the less you’ll have to borrow and the higher the odds of mortgage approval. These days, you’ll need at least 5% down for a conventional mortgage, and usually around 3% for a government-backed mortgage (though there are some programs that accept even less).

Having said that, the ideal down payment is one that is a minimum of 20% of the purchase price of the home, as this will help you avoid having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which can cost you anywhere between 0.5% to 1% of the loan amount paid on an annual basis.

If you’ve got a $300,000 mortgage, for instance, you’ll be paying $250 a month in PMI payments. You can avoid this cost by coming up with 20% down. Not only that, you’ll be able to borrow less to finance the home, which means smaller monthly payments (and less money going towards interest).

Can Your Income Handle All the Extras of Owning and Maintaining a Home?

Aside from a down payment, there are plenty of other expenses that go into buying and owning a home. There are a bunch of closing costs that you will have to pay for, including lender fees, appraisals, land transfer taxes, title insurance, and so forth. Typically, buyers pay anywhere between 1% to 4% of the purchase price of the home right off the bat.

In addition, there are maintenance fees that you will have to pay for that you may not have had to cover as a renter. Maintaining your landscaping, paying your utility bills, property insurance, property taxes, and covering the cost of ongoing repairs that will certainly come up throughout the lifespan of your home are just a few of the things that you will be responsible for.

This can add up to a few thousand dollars every year, depending on your location and the size and condition of your home. Make sure you get an idea of these costs from the seller before you dedicate yourself to a specific home.

Are Prepared to Handle All the Maintenance Yourself?

Not only will you be responsible for covering the cost of maintenance and repairs, you’ll also be on the hook for tackling them yourself. You’ll need to dedicate a little time each week or month to home maintenance. If you’re not a handy person or simply don’t have the time nor the desire to handle these tasks yourself, you’ll need to hire someone to do it for you, which means more money out of your pocket.

Have You Found an Area You Can See Yourself Living in Long-Term?

As a renter, you have the freedom and flexibility to move as you please after your lease term is up. Such is not exactly the case with homeownership. Relocating is a much more in-depth and expensive process when you actually own a property and need to sell it to move.

That said, if you’ve found a location that you love and can see yourself calling it home for the long term, then buying may be a great decision. This is especially true if your job is secure and has a very low likelihood of changing anytime soon.

Of course, you’ll want to investigate the neighborhood you’re considering calling home by scoping out its school system, crime rate, proximity to work, amenities, and property values, to name a few. Your real estate agent can help you gather this pertinent information about the area.

The Bottom Line

There are so many milestones in life to celebrate, and that includes entering homeownership. Of course, achieving this status can and should only be done if you are both emotionally and financially ready to take the plunge. Ask yourself the above questions before you make the leap from renter to homeowner to ensure you’re ready to take the next step.

How to Identify Serious Structural Issues in a Home

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Considering buying an older home? There are plenty of benefits of taking this route versus buying new construction. Older homes have a lot of character, are usually located in more established neighborhoods that are closer to urban centers, and are typically surrounded by mature greenery. That said, older homes may also require some improvements considering the aging of the construction materials.

Yet while many improvements can be easily done with relatively few issues, structural problems can be extremely difficult and costly to rectify. Unless you’re planning to completely tear the home down and build new, you should avoid buying a home with a faulty structure, as it will just wind up being a money pit.

Here are a few signs that a home’s foundation is in rough shape.

Rotting Joists

While you might not necessarily be able to spot rotting joists right away, you might be able to identify them by peering through ceiling panels and poking at the wood with some type of tool. If it’s soft and can easily crumble, you have a big problem. And if the spot you checked has rotting joists, odds are the problem is widespread. This type of issue is very serious and is expensive to fix.

Drooping Roof

If the roof line of the home looks like it’s drooping or bowing in the middle, that may be a sign that there has been some shifting of the load-bearing walls. These walls are incredibly important as they support the weight of the structure and keep it standing straight. A faulty structure could be the culprit behind the shifting of the load-bearing walls.

To get the best view of the roof line, look at it from a distance rather than immediately outside the front yard, which will give you a better perspective. If there is obvious sagging, the home could actually be deemed unsafe.

Cracked Foundation

Hairline cracks in the foundation walls are pretty common and usually nothing to be alarmed about. After a new home is built, it settles after a while which can result in these thin cracks on the inside or outside of the foundation walls. However, thicker cracks can be a sign of something more serious. Anything wider than 1/16 inch is an issue, particularly if lets water or pests in, or gets longer and wider as time goes on.

Large cracks that reach the top of the foundation wall or the basement floor, run horizontally, or wrap around a corner are cause for concern and could signify that the soil under the foundation is moving and forcing the foundation to move along with it.

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Improper Water Drainage

If any water from rainfall or irrigation systems is unable to drain properly, it can cause soil shifting, which can put a ton of pressure on a home’s foundation and can even make a home unsafe to live in. Improper water drainage is one of the most common causes of soil shifting which can cause the soil surrounding the foundation to expand very quickly when it rains and rapidly contract during dry spells.

If you notice that the soil around the perimeter of the home is very wet even though it hasn’t rained over the past few days, or the soil is dry despite a recent rainfall or watering, odds are the water is not being drained properly.

Another way to identify improper water drainage around the home is to turn off all faucets and water-running appliances, taking note of the water meter’s readout, then checking to see if the reading has changed a few hours later. If the reading is different, there may be a few leaks under the foundation’s floor or behind its walls which require immediate attention.

Cracked Walls

Not only can cracks appear on the foundation walls, they can also appear on upper-level walls as well. While some cracking is only natural as a home ages, major cracks and signs of crumbling of upper-level walls is a sign of significant settling. If the walls exhibit signs of warping, cracking, crumbling, decay, or water damage, the foundation of the home may be failing and will require extensive work to rectify.

Sagging Floors

A faulty foundation can also manifest itself in the form of sagging floors and ceilings, as well as gaps at the junction of the floors and ceilings. While you can often tell just by looking at the ceilings and floors that they are sagging, you can verify this by using a level tool.

Sticky Doors and Windows

All the windows and doors of a home should obviously fit tightly in their openings to ensure that they are energy efficient, by they shouldn’t be so tight that it takes a lot of effort to open and close them. If you notice that the doors and windows of a home “stick” when trying to open or close them, there cold be an underlying issue with the home’s foundation.

Even if there is some other reason for sticky doors and windows, this issue will need to be fixed immediately in order to reduce energy loss throughout the home.

The Bottom Line

Knowing exactly what to look for when searching for a home can help you identify issues that are deal-breakers. Typically, the foundation, roof, walls, ceilings, windows, and doors are components that will reveal problems with the home’s overall structure. At that point, you have choices: either negotiate a lower price, ask the seller to tackle the repairs for you, or move on.

What You Should Know About Buying a Short Sale Home

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For sellers, a short sale is not an ideal way to sell a home. But for buyers, it may be a great way to snag a great deal on a home. That said, a short sale is not exactly like a conventional sale, and there could realistically be a few hurdles for buyers to have to jump over before this type of real estate transaction comes to a close.

If you’re considering buying a short sale home, get familiar with the process and understand the potential obstacles that you may face throughout the process.

What is a Short Sale?

A short sale involves selling a property for less than what is still owed on it. Any net proceeds of the sale don’t fully cover the outstanding mortgage left on the home. Basically, the seller ends up “short” on paying the home loan back to the lender who agrees to take less than the amount that still remains on the mortgage.

This is hardly the best way to sell a home, but it’s still a lot better than foreclosure. Selling short can also help sellers avoid getting dinged on their credit score.

Why Consider Buying a Short Sale?

Obviously, the biggest – and only – reason why buyers would consider purchasing through a short sale is that they can usually get a great bargain on a home. If you happen to come across a property that you love that just so happens to be a short sale at a price that’s under market value, you can realistically snag a good deal.

And since the lender wants to quickly get their money back that they loaned out, they may even be willing to offer you more favorable financing terms.

If you’re willing to accept a potentially long waiting period before the short sale is approved and the deal goes through, you could land yourself a great place at an awesome price. 

The Short Sale Transaction

If a seller is in a position to sell short, they will have to prepare a financial package to submit to their bank, which will consist of a variety of documents, including a letter of authorization, completed financial statement, two years of tax returns and W-2s, and a comparative market analysis (CMA), among others.

Before you put in an offer on a short sale property, your real estate agent will pull a list of as comparable sales to come up with an appropriate offer price, which is typical in any offer situation. The price you offer is crucial not just to the seller, but also for the bank, which will want to receive as close to market value as possible.

Some short sales can start before an offer is submitted, but more often than not, the bank will begin the process after they’ve received an accepted offer. The listing agent will then send several items to the bank once the seller accepts the offer, including the listing agreement, the offer, the buyer’s letter of pre-approval, a copy of the deposit check, and the seller’s short sale package. It’s important that this package has everything needed without anything missing, or else the short sale process can be delayed.

As the buyer of a short sale, you should be prepared to wait a long time before hearing from the bank. Since you must get approval from the seller’s lender first, then take the final agreement to your own lender get a mortgage, a short sale can be pretty lengthy.

Every case is different, so there really is no exact time frame within which it will take each short sale to be approved. However, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to even a few months before approval is granted.

The listing agent will have to keep tabs on the bank and call in periodically to make sure the short sale process is proceeding. However, your agent can’t speak with the lender without being authorized to do so.

Just be sure to work with an experienced real estate agent to help you navigate the short sale process, and get pre-approved for a mortgage before putting in an offer.

The Bottom Line

If it’s a deal you’re after, then short sales may have something for you. However, they also come with potential issues that you will need to deal with before you get the keys to your new home. Done right – and with the assistance of a seasoned real estate professional – you can come out a winner with an awesome house at a fantastic deal.