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Let’s hope that we learn from experience

Why do buyers walk away from short sales?

The other day I obtained short sale approval from the first and second lien holders for a single family home in Riverside County, California. The home belongs to a relative of a local real estate agent who had hired me to process the short sale.

This was actually the second time that I got the approvals for this property; the first time the buyer lost his patience and walked away from the transaction. Last night, I learned that this second buyer had also walked away. And, (read: sarcasm) can you imagine this? When the listing agent contacted the buyer’s agent, he learned that the buyer had actually purchased a condominium and closed escrow.

Let’s review why this happened. Buyer’s walk away from short sale transactions because they lose patience. It sometimes takes two to three months to obtain short sale approval. If you are a buyer’s agent, it is extremely important for you to explain to your buyer the anticipated time frame. The buyer will get antsy because s/he is eager to get the property. But, this anxiety can be mitigated by frequent phone calls and emails explaining the status of the transaction. On our office website, we have an explanation of the short sale process that specifically targets buyers. This document reviews the entire process from start to finish. Any buyer who reads this document now understands what to expect when buying a short sale.

Now (read: sarcasm again), I wonder why the listing agent didn’t know that the buyer had purchased a condominium and closed escrow. I can only surmise that this listing agent was not following up with the buyer’s agent weekly to assure the buyer’s agent that the transaction was moving forward quickly and efficiently. It is vital for listing agents to keep in active communication with the buyer’s agents throughout the short sale process.

Here’s a tip (and it ain’t rocket science): If you do not call the buyer’s agent and the buyer’s agent does not call you for status for several weeks, it is probable that the buyer has moved on and will not be purchasing the short sale.

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None of this is rocket science. These are just common sense tips about appropriate activities that will help to assure that your short sale closes with the very first buyer!

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. Lani Rosales

    May 18, 2010 at 11:27 am

    How frustrating! When someone is making the largest investment they’ll have in their personal portfolio, no news is no news and people HAVE to be kept in the loop or they’ll assume the worst. THEN, what happens? They go online and rant about an agent being stupid when really they were just non communicative.

    Great reminder, Melissa!

  2. Pam Treece

    May 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Excellent tips on the process of short selling; its only common sense that the buyer should be notified about the extended time frame associated with a sort sale. This kind of irresponsibility and negligence will continue to hurt the real estate market unless agents wise up.

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