It's a common misconception that a short sale should be a quick process, but the "short" in short sale has absolutely nothing to do with the length of time to close an escrow. In reality, a short sale is probably the longest escrow you will ever experience in your real estate lifetime. The government has attempted to put numerous policies in place to regulate the bank's processing procedures and require shorter turn-around times, but none of these rules have had a real effect on the time it takes to process your request.
Unlike a "traditional" sale, banks make the rules and take their own sweet time to get around to reviewing the file. I have closed escrows on short sales within 30 days of presenting the initial offer to the bank, and others have tested everyone's resolve and dragged the escrow process out 5 months from the offer date. And as all parties bite their nails and wait to see if the sale actually goes through, the bank's are continuing to layoff more and more staff members, causing an even bigger backload in their processing system. I do have sympathy for the short sale negotiators who are carrying upwards of 14k, yes thousand! files on their desk to sort through. No wonder we're all standing around waiting.
So what can we do as sellers, Realtors and buyers involved in a short sale transaction? The most obvious, be patient. As a homeowner attempting to sell your home as a short sale, get all of the necessary paperwork your Realtor requests together as soon as possible. A clean and complete file will help expedite the process with your lender. As a buyer, clearly communicate your timeline to your agent upfront. If you have to be moved into a new home in a certain school district in time to register your child for school in the Fall, choosing a short sale home may not be the wisest decision to ensure your successful placement in the district. And finally, research who the lienholder(s) are on the property prior to submission of your offer. I have found that smaller banks like PNC and Aurora take the longest to get around to even reviewing the file let alone ordering the Broker Price Opinion whereas Chase seems to be very responsive and timely. Bank of America is a hit or miss depending on the time of day you call or the agent you're assigned to. If there is only 1 lienholder, or if the 1st and 2nd are with the same lienholder, your negotiation process will be a little bit faster. If you have multiple lienholders, be prepared for a very, very, very long wait.
Short sales unfortuntely are going to be a part of our real estate system for many years to come so arm yourself with ample patience when you come to the negotiating table on a short sale purchase.