Things to know if you want to buy a short sale

When a home is being sold for less than the owner owes, it is considered a short sale. While this sounds simple enough, there are many details that can make it a challenge for both the buyer and seller.

As a buyer, you must realize one thing to be true: This is not the same as buying a home in a conventional manner. There are a variety of odds and ends that can get in your way, add stress, and slow things down.

If you have plans of making an offer on a short sale, here are some things to consider:

-- You must be patient. Not only does the seller have to agree to your asking price, but the lender has to approve the sale. This can take quite a few weeks (or longer).

-- Get your financing in line. Lenders love cash offers, but this isn't your only option. If you are taking out a mortgage, make sure you are well qualified and have been preapproved.

-- Don't place too many contingencies on the purchase. Lenders like buyers who are flexible. Too many contingencies can hold a deal back, which will put the lender in a bad spot. If you are making an offer on a short sale, consider cutting out some or all of the contingencies.

There are many benefits of buying a short sale, including the opportunity to score a deal of a lifetime. Before you get too excited, however, you need to become familiar with the details that can turn this process into a challenge.

Source: Realtor Magazine, "Before Making a Short Sale Offer," accessed Dec. 29, 2015