Shopping for a Short Sale

A short sale can be a long process – some buyers have sworn them off; others are eagerly following them, seeking value.

Short sales have been in the news a lot for a couple of years now. One of the first questions I ask a buyer I am working with: are you interested in (or willing to consider) a short sale?  Because they aren’t easy — although it’s getting better — and they don’t always close.

Just in case you aren't clear on what a short sale is, let me quickly define: it’s where the homeowner owes the bank more than the home is worth, but because they have had a hardship of some kind, the bank will “forgive” the balance of the loan when the home sells. This is very different from an REO or bank-owned home that has been through a foreclosure — the bank does not own the short-sale home, but they must approve the sale and agree to take the loss.

The process for the bank to approve the short sale can be long: they need to research the home-owner and verify the hardship and lack of assets, plus they need to research the home and make sure the offer and value are not too far apart.

A few months ago, I had a buyer in escrow on a short sale — and we were within two weeks of getting the loan approved and the deal closed, but the bank foreclosed on the house instead. This is the sort of heartbreak that a buyer must realize as a risk.

However, many buyers are looking for short sales because, by the very definition of how difficult they can be, the price is often discounted for that process.

I belong to a marketing group that meets weekly, made up of top agents from all the different firms in the area, and one of agents mentioned a new price on her listing in Alamo — a short sale that inspired this week’s theme. With that in mind, here is a sampling of short sales, currently on the market.


2781 Miranda Ave is offered by Gretchen Bryce of Re/Max and is the home that inspired today’s theme. I first saw this home when it came on the market at $1,700,000 and was not a short sale — but lovely. I’ve watched the market change in Alamo, softening dramatically over the past six months, and a home like this one is a case-in-point. This is a single story 5-bedroom, 4-bath home with 3,900 square feet. Gated from the street, this home is near Livorna Park but has a park-like back yard of its own: a flat ½ acre lot with pool and spa. The home has gorgeous details and finishes throughout, including a large master suite with fireplace and gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances. It’s light and bright and gorgeous with walls of windows. See the virtual tour: http://www.allaccessphoto.com/tours/2781-miranda-alamo/ Now offered at $1,199,000. For showings or questions, phone Gretchen at (925) 683-2477.


517 Silver Lake Drive is offered by Patsy Kauffman of Sotheby’s Realty. This is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath golf villa in the Crow Canyon Country Club with 1,619 square feet. Overlooking the golf course, and with a great western exposure to enjoy the sunsets, this home has vaulted ceilings and an attached 2-car garage. Priced at $475,000. For more information or to schedule a showing, phone Patsy at (925) 683-5725.

San Ramon

2392 Millstream Lane is offered by Joe Frazzano and Alex Tse of J. Rockcliff. This is a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhome with 2,180 square feet located in Windemere. Newer (built in 2003), this home has nice views and an open kitchen with granite countertops and large center island. Priced at $469,900. For showings or more information, phone Joe or Alex at (925) 735-7653.


10759 McKay Lane is offered by Bill Clarkson of Golden Hills Brokers. Bill is also in the marketing group that I mentioned (there are 20 of us) — plus he is the newly elected Mayor of San Ramon. Bill’s listing is a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath townhome in the Highlands neighborhood. Built in 1996, it’s relatively new, includes a 2-car garage and a fireplace. It shows well, with neutral paint color and new carpet. The backyard is a fenced patio with privacy. Priced at $399,000. For a showing or more information, phone Bill at (925) 200-5380.


3744 Raboli Street is offered by Robert Gibbons of Better Homes and Gardens. This is a 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath home with 4,205 square feet located in Ruby Hill. Situated on a large .45 acre lot, the backyard is private with outdoor kitchen, fountain, patio, sprawling lawns, and stunning views. The entry to the home makes a great first impression with a grand foyer including a gorgeous wrought-iron staircase. The kitchen is open to the family room and has a large center island and granite countertops. See the virtual tour: http://www.3744RaboliStreet.com/. Priced at $1,499,000. For showings or more information, phone Robert at (925) 639-7847.

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