Another common problem is the slow pace at which lenders approve short sales, which occur when a seller is allowed to accept a sales price that's less than the loan balance, leaving the bank with a loss. These deals can be particularly pokey if the seller has multiple mortgages, Hastings says.
A lot of borrowers have second mortgages and sometimes third mortgages, "and one of the major problems with closing is that you can't get the first and the second on the same page," Hastings says. "The first will approve (the short sale) and the second won't, and then the second will approve it and the first approval will expire."
Many short sales linger beyond the point of salvation, but in other cases, patience and persistence are rewarded. Hastings recalls one short sale in which the seller had two loans held by the same lender, but the approvals were still out of sync. Time passed, the paperwork came together and eventually the deal closed.