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Bulletproof way to overcome short sale stressors

Real estate short sales can be entirely stressful, but there is one bulletproof method that real estate practitioners can implement that can massively reduce stressors in the process.


I’m sure that you’ve heard the old adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Even though I’m 100% certain that this adage existed well before the current barrage of short sales, it definitely serves to underscore the stress associated with processing and negotiating a short sale.

Why are short sales so stressful on agents, sellers, and buyers?

Generally, the stress associated with short sales is likely due to the unknown. There are so many unknown factors associated with the short sale transaction. Here’s a list of the three most common stressors:

  1. Lender Timeframes. Nobody seems to know exactly how long the short sale process may take. Even though Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have recently announced that they will be streamlining things, from listing to closing could still be around four months.
  2. Price. An additional unknown factor is the price. Sellers and listing agents work together to price the property accordingly. An offer is received and submitted to the bank. The mortgage lender conducts its own valuation and may disagree significantly with respect to the price.
  3. Buyer Motivation. Buyers write offers on short sales, and then they wait and wait and wait. At some point, a buyer may lose interest in waiting any longer. If the buyer cancels, then often the lender short sale processing period needs to begin all over again.

While no short sale transaction is picture perfect, there are certainly a few ways to get around some of these big unknowns in the short sale transaction.

The easiest and best way to address some of these unknowns is with a bulletproof counter offer. After receiving an offer and before the offer is submitted to the short sale lender, consider writing a counter offer that addresses any items that may change during the process. For example, termite and septic clearance are commonly requested in the offer, however the short sale lender may not approve such fees. Consider addressing such items early in the process. Then, if the short sale lender does not approve those items, the buyer will likely still proceed with the closing.

There’s possibly nothing worse then working for 90 days to obtain a short sale approval only to find that the buyer has moved on. But, as I said, I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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Written By

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.



  1. Joe Loomer

    October 16, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Spot on again, Melissa – didn’t have the septic issue on my last one, but my buyers got a rock-star deal $40,000 below market and the lender didn’t balk at the closing costs because we addressed it up front.  More gems from the Zavala treasure chest!
    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

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