Short Sale Properties: Is Now the Time to Buy?

Miriam Hoffman has been looking in Los Angeles to buy her first house for over a year. She has put in offers on two "short sale" properties--in each case, waiting months and months for a reply--and neither offer has resulted in a purchase. A short sale is when the proceeds from a property's sale fall short of the balance on the property's loan. "There's a saying I heard a while ago, 'There's nothing short about a short sale,' " she says. "And it's very true." Hoffman is still looking for her first home.

Hoffman's agent, Coldwell Banker Realtor Victoria Massengale, thinks short sales would go much smoother, "if selling agents got their acts together. Then these short sales would happen faster and more efficiently."

But how can you maximize your chances to get a home purchased by short sale--and avoid waiting six months to a year for the banks to sort through your application? The answer can be found in two words: preparation and patience.