real estate

Which to buy: short sale or foreclosure?

Drawbacks of buying short sales
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Drawbacks of buying short sales

The name "short sale" can be deceiving -- these deals can drag on for months. Some sellers assume they can start this process on a whim, Daubenmeyer says. "It's not a 'get out of jail free' card," she says. "You have to qualify for a short sale."

After the seller is approved, the first question a buyer should ask is whether there are two mortgages on the house.

"If there's a second lien holder on the short sale, that transaction can get ugly for a seller," says Carla Weyrick, a Realtor with Allen Tate Co. in Charlotte, N.C.

Every entity that has a financial stake in the house has to agree to the short sale, she says. If the sale price of the home won't pay off the second mortgage, that lien holder may not get paid -- so the lender can block the sale.

In the meantime, the buyer is stuck waiting for the answer. You'll need to know when to hold and when to fold.




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