Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Distressed Sales


Distressed sales refer to the sale of assets, notably real estate, under pressured conditions. These conditions often include situations where the owner is unable to maintain mortgage payments and thus faces foreclosure, or where the owner needs to sell quickly due to personal reasons. Such sales typically lead to the asset being sold below its appraised value.


The phonetic pronunciation of the term “Distressed Sales” is: dih-strest seylz

Key Takeaways

  • Distressed sales often involve properties that are sold at a price significantly below their market value. This can happen when the property owner is in severe financial difficulty or when the property itself is in poor condition.
  • These sales can be a great opportunity for investors or buyers looking for a bargain, but they also come with risks. The buyer may have to deal with legal issues, the property might need substantial repairs, or the value of the property might not increase as predicted.</li><li>Due diligence is essential in distressed sales. Potential buyers should thoroughly research the property’s history, inspect it carefully, and consult with professionals to understand all possible issues and costs involved before making a decision.


Distressed sales play a crucial role in business and finance due to their impact on market prices and their potential for high returns. These sales typically occur when the seller is under pressure to sell quickly, often because of financial hardship, resulting in the asset such as property, stocks, or other tangible items being sold below their market value. Investors often view distressed sales as an opportunity to acquire assets cheaply, which can potentially yield significant profits once market conditions improve or if the assets can be turned around. These transactions can affect the overall market by driving down prices, especially in times of economic downturn. Consequently, understanding distressed sales is essential for both investors seeking profit and market analysts predicting trends.


A distressed sale typically occurs when an asset or property must be sold quickly due to unfavorable conditions, which are often financial in nature, hence the term “distressed”. Often, the underlying purpose of such a sale is to avoid or mitigate serious financial consequences such as bankruptcy or foreclosure. From an individual perspective, going through a distressed sale could be a desperate strategy to reduce personal debt levels by converting assets into liquid cash. On the other hand, businesses might use distressed sales to offload non-core or under-performing divisions so they can focus their resources on the more profitable areas of their operations.

In the real estate sector specifically, distressed sales allow homeowners to avoid foreclosure by selling their properties at a price that is typically below market value. For businesses, distressed sales can be a tool to return to profitability by selling off assets or divisions that are not doing well. To the buyers, a distressed sale presents an opportunity to acquire an asset or property at a lower cost, albeit with some potential risks associated. Overall, distressed sales serve as a financial tool, enabling both parties involved to negotiate and make decisions within a less-than-ideal economic environment.


1. Real Estate Foreclosures: One of the most common examples of distressed sales is when a bank forecloses a home because the homeowner has defaulted on their mortgage payments. The bank aims to sell the property as quickly as possible, often at a price less than the outstanding loan to recover its lost funds.

2. Auctions: Car auctions sometimes involve distressed sales where lenders sell the repossessed vehicles, usually at a price that is significantly lower than the market value. This happens when the original owner fails to make the necessary repayments for the vehicle loan.

3. Business Liquidations: If a business is undergoing bankruptcy and needs to quickly pay off creditors, they might need to sell their assets under a distressed sale. For instance, a restaurant failing to stay afloat may sell off its kitchen equipment, furniture, and inventory at prices lower than market values to quickly arrange funds to pay off its debts.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the meaning of a Distressed Sale in finance and business terms?

A Distressed Sale refers to the process by which property, stocks, or other assets are sold in an urgent manner, typically to pay off debts, often resulting in the assets being sold at a lower price than their market value.

Why does a Distressed Sale occur?

Distressed Sales often occur when the owner faces financial issues, like bankruptcy or insolvency, requiring them to sell the assets quickly to raise capital for debt repayment.

Is a Distressed Sale beneficial for the buyer?

Yes, generally distressed sales offer a great opportunity for buyers to acquire assets at discounted prices. However, it’s crucial to conduct due diligence as the asset may come with risks or liabilities.

What types of assets can be involved in a Distressed Sale?

Almost any type of asset can be part of a Distressed Sale, including property, financial instruments like stocks or bonds, or a whole business.

What are the risks associated with buying in a Distressed Sale?

While buyers can get assets at lower prices in a Distressed Sale, they must consider the potential risks, such as hidden debts, poor asset condition, or legal issues.

How does a Distressed Sale impact the overall market?

Distressed Sales can potentially depress the market values of similar assets, especially if they are frequent or large in amplitude.

Can a business recover from making a Distressed Sale?

Recovery depends on several factors such as the health of the company, the current market climate, and the business’s strategy following the sale. Nonetheless, a Distressed Sale usually indicates a serious financial problem, and recovery can be challenging.

Can a Distressed Sale occur voluntarily?

Although Distressed Sales typically occur due to financial duress, not all are involuntary. A company may choose a Distressed Sale as part of a strategy to streamline its business or eliminate underperforming assets.

How can I find opportunities for Distressed Sales?

Opportunities for Distressed Sales could be found through real estate or stock market listings, financial advisors, real estate agents, or auctions.

Related Finance Terms

  • Foreclosure
  • Short Sale
  • Repossession
  • Non-performing Assets
  • Liquidation

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More