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Unlike in a foreclosure, the bank does not own the property in a short sale. Because the bank must approve the sale (because it is the lender, not the seller, who will be taking a loss on the property) it will seem like the buyer is purchasing the property from the bank. The buyer and seller do prepare a contract between them, but that contract is conditional upon approval by the seller’s noteholder. This is called “3rd party approval”.
They can be much more time-consuming and patience-testing than foreclosure transactions. Banks are notorious for taking as long as several months to respond to short sale offers. We recommend that you give include a deadline for short sale approval by the noteholder - if the bank has not approved your offer within a certain timeframe, you can void the contract. This is just one of many strategies and conditions that are important to include in any short sale transaction.