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Real Estate Short Sale


A real estate short sale is a transaction in which a property owner sells their property for less than the outstanding mortgage balance. This typically occurs when the owner faces financial hardship and can no longer make mortgage payments. The lender must approve the sale, and usually agrees to forgive any remaining debt after the proceeds from the sale are applied.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Real Estate Short Sale” is:/riːəl/ /ɪˈsteɪt/ /ʃɔːrt/ /seɪl/Real: /ree-uhl/Estate: /ih-stayt/Short: /shawrt/Sale: /sail/

Key Takeaways

  • A real estate short sale occurs when a homeowner sells their property for less than the outstanding mortgage balance, typically due to financial distress or the property having a lower market value than what is owed.
  • Short sales can be beneficial to both the homeowner and the lender, as they allow the homeowner to avoid foreclosure and potential damage to their credit score, while the lender can mitigate their losses and avoid the expenses of a foreclosure process.
  • The short sale process can be lengthy and complicated, often involving multiple parties, such as the homeowner, lender, real estate agent, and buyer. It’s important to be patient and prepared for potential hurdles, such as property liens or negotiating with the lender to approve the sale.


The Real Estate Short Sale is an important financial term in the business industry as it offers a viable alternative for both financially distressed homeowners and potential buyers. In a short sale, the homeowner sells their property for less than the outstanding mortgage balance, with the lender’s consent. This process helps the homeowner avoid foreclosure, which can have long-term detrimental effects on their credit score and financial profile. For the buyer, a short sale can provide an opportunity to purchase a property at a reduced price, often below market value. Additionally, lenders benefit from short sales as they can recover a portion of the owed amount while mitigating the expenses and risks associated with foreclosures. Overall, short sales foster a more efficient real estate market by offering unique advantages to all parties involved.


A real estate short sale serves as an alternative option to foreclosure when a homeowner is struggling to keep up with mortgage payments and the current value of the property has fallen below the outstanding loan balance. The main purpose of a short sale is to provide homeowners and lenders with a mutually beneficial solution to their predicament. The homeowner can avoid a damaging foreclosure mark on their credit report and the ongoing financial burden of the mortgage, while the lender can recoup a significant portion of the outstanding loan balance without going through the lengthy and expensive foreclosure process.

In a short sale, the homeowner, with the lender’s approval, lists and sells the property at a price that is less than the outstanding loan amount, with the proceeds being used to repay a portion of the mortgage debt. The lender agrees to accept the reduced amount as repayment, thereby releasing the homeowner from the burden of the remaining loan balance. Meanwhile, the buyer of the real estate benefits from purchasing the property at a potentially lower market price. It’s important to note that a short sale is a complex process that involves negotiations with multiple parties, including the homeowner, the lender, and potential buyers, and it may not always be the best solution for all situations. However, when executed properly, a short sale can offer a viable path for homeowners facing financial hardship and allow them to begin rebuilding their financial stability.


1. Homeowner facing foreclosure: A homeowner in Las Vegas purchased a house for $400,000 during the peak of the housing market. However, due to an economic downturn and job loss, the homeowner is now unable to make mortgage payments and owes more than the current market value of the property. To avoid foreclosure, the homeowner and their bank agree to a short sale, and the house is sold for $350,000, an amount less than the outstanding mortgage balance.

2. Relocation situation: A couple in Atlanta bought a home for $300,000, but a sudden job transfer requires them to move across the country within a short timeframe. They still owe $280,000 on the mortgage, but the current market value of their home has dropped to $270,000. They work with their lender to agree on a short sale, and when they find a buyer willing to pay $270,000, the lender accepts the lower payoff to quickly close the deal and relieve the couple of their mortgage obligation.

3. Property with negative equity: A commercial property owner in New York City purchased an office building for $3 million, but due to the economic crisis and market decline, current appraisals show that the property has lost value and is now worth only $2.5 million. The owner is struggling to rent out the space and can no longer keep up with mortgage payments. The lender agrees to a short sale, and the commercial property is sold for $2.5 million, allowing the owner to avoid foreclosure and the lender to recoup a portion of their investment.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Real Estate Short Sale?

A Real Estate Short Sale is a process where a homeowner sells their property for a lower price than the outstanding mortgage balance. The proceeds of the sale go to the mortgage lender as repayment, and the lender agrees to accept less than the full amount owed.

When is a Real Estate Short Sale appropriate?

A short sale is appropriate when a homeowner is facing financial difficulties and is unable to keep up with their mortgage payments, leading to the possibility of foreclosure. It can be a better alternative than foreclosure for both the homeowner and the lender, as it can help protect the homeowner’s credit score and may result in a smaller loss for the lender.

How does the Short Sale process work?

The Short Sale process typically involves the following steps:1. The homeowner contacts their lender to discuss the possibility of a short sale.2. If the lender agrees, the homeowner lists the property for sale, usually with the assistance of a real estate agent.3. Potential buyers submit offers for the property.4. The homeowner selects a buyer, and the lender reviews the offer to determine if it is acceptable.5. If the lender approves the offer, the sale proceeds, and the mortgage debt is forgiven or reduced.6. The homeowner may be required to pay taxes on the forgiven debt, as it may be considered income by the IRS.

How long does a Real Estate Short Sale take?

The duration of a short sale can vary, but it typically takes longer than a traditional home sale. It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months, depending on factors such as the lender’s approval process, the property’s condition, and the local real estate market.

Will a Real Estate Short Sale negatively impact my credit score?

A short sale can have a negative impact on your credit score, though it is generally less severe than a foreclosure. The impact can vary depending on the specific circumstances, such as the amount of debt forgiven and your overall credit history. However, it is important to remember that a short sale can help you avoid a more significant credit score drop resulting from foreclosure.

Can I remain in my home during a Real Estate Short Sale?

Yes, as the homeowner, you can remain in your home during the short sale process. Once the sale is complete, you will need to move out and find alternative housing.

Can I buy a new home after a Real Estate Short Sale?

Yes, you can buy a new home after a short sale, but there may be some restrictions. Typically, you will need to wait at least two to four years to qualify for a new mortgage, depending on the type of loan and your specific circumstances. You may also need to rebuild your credit and meet other loan requirements in order to qualify.

Related Finance Terms

    • Distressed Property
    • Pre-Foreclosure
    • Negotiated Settlement
    • Mortgage Lender Approval
    • Home Equity Deficiency

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