As a home buyer, it is important to know the difference between a short sale and a foreclosure.

During the boom time in real estate the answers were much different than today. At the peak of the market, the definition of a short sale was a property that sold the day it was listed. The term foreclosure was almost a foreign term because sellers were able to sell their homes if they were having trouble making their payments and quite frankly, there were not many.

So what exactly is a "Short Sale"?

A short sale is the process of a seller obtaining an offer on their property and then trying to convince the bank to accept less than what is due.  For example, a seller owes $250,000 on the house, but can only get $200,000. The bank has a lien on the property and this debt must be cleared in order for the house to be sold.

When considering looking at short sales or foreclosures, you must first understand that a short sale is a much more difficult property to obtain. The two are like apples and oranges when it comes to a buyer's experience.

What Makes a Foreclosure Different Than a Short Sale?

A foreclosure is a property that has already been taken over by the bank. The seller was unable to keep up with payments and simply had to relinquish the property back to the bank. Foreclosures are fairly straight-forward sales because the banks typically do not want to be "home owners"; they want to be "home loaners".

Your Time Is Valuable

When looking at a short sale property, keep in mind that you may not be able to buy it.

Ask yourself this question, "Can I put my plans on hold and wait 4 months (or even a year) for the bank to decide to accept a short sale?"

If the answer is no, then avoid short sales. If you are okay with waiting, then a short sale may prove to be a good choice if the price seems right.

Foreclosures are More Straight Forward

With bank owned homes, you can typically close quickly and the main factor to keep in mind is that many people look for foreclosures, so if you find one you like act quickly, and secondly, they are sold as-is. The sellers generally do not make repairs on the property.

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