What does a Short Sale Specialist do?

Jeremy Laukkonen

Short sale specialists can assist distressed homeowners sell real estate that they are no longer able to afford. It is common for a short sale specialist to have experience in dealing with loan company loss mitigation departments and extensive knowledge of applicable laws or regulations. Most short sale specialists are real estate agents or brokers, though some lawyers also have extensive experience in the field. These specialists will typically help a homeowner compose a hardship letter, obtain authorization from their lender, and then list and market the property. Interested buyers can also retain the services of a short sale specialist if they wish to buy property under these conditions, as the process can be a little more complex than buying other homes.

Banks sometimes sell property for less than the amount owed on its mortgage.
Banks sometimes sell property for less than the amount owed on its mortgage.

All short sales involve selling real estate for less than the bank is owed, typically due to the collapse of a housing bubble or multiple mortgages. Homeowners may find themselves in this situation for a number of different reasons, such as extended unemployment, illness, or other sources of financial hardship. In most cases they will face foreclosure if they cannot sell their home, which can have long lasting negative financial impacts. To sell the home and avoid these consequences, a short sale specialist may be called upon.

Short sales can be profitable for real estate agents if they know how to negotiate with banks.
Short sales can be profitable for real estate agents if they know how to negotiate with banks.

The first step that a short sale specialist usually takes is to determine how much the homeowner owes and the price that the property will likely get in the current real estate market. This information can be useful in writing a hardship letter, which a homeowner typically sends to his lender to request authorization for a short sale. Since the specialist will usually have experience with this process, he may help the property owner write the letter by providing advice and useful information. In some cases, the specialist may also interact directly with a lender's loss mitigation department.

After authorization has been obtained from the lender, the short sale specialist may then list the property with the local multiple listing service (MLS) and attempt to locate buyers. There are sometimes specific regulations regarding information disclosure in the listings for short sales, so the specialist is typically familiar with such items. Short sale specialists are usually also well versed in regulations that govern interactions with appraisers and other potential pitfalls during the sales process.

Since the lender is typically not required to follow through with a short sale, a specialist will often choose to maintain contact with its loss mitigation department. Any disagreement between the lender and the property owner could cause a short sale to fall apart, so an agent, broker, or lawyer involved in these deals typically must remain vigilant. Potential buyers are often not aware of these factors, so they can also benefit from the services of a short sale specialist.

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