Should you be looking at "short sale" homes?

You may be hearing a lot about buying properties "short," like it's some modern-day Gold Rush, where homes are being offered for 50% off or more. Short-selling is when the bank agrees the home is worth less than what it was financed for.

Having bid on a bank-owned property in the past year, I can tell you that this is not so. Buying properties that are being sold "short" -- in other words, for less than what the owner owes the bank -- can be a frustrating process. But as with anything that involves a lot of effort, it also has the potential to be quite rewarding.

Before you start out, however, better do your homework. Understand exactly what you're getting in to before embarking on this complex and often frustrating mode of transaction.