The most important criteria for choosing the best short sale real estate agent is the same as choosing a real estate agent for any transaction. Topping the list for both is experience. Although a new agent might be qualified to guide a buyer or seller through the process for a traditional sale, an experienced agent will be more likely to anticipate issues that might be problematic and ensure the best outcome for his client. In the short sale process, the potential for difficulties greatly increases, and an inexperienced agent is at a distinct disadvantage. To choose the best short sale agent, find one who has experience in your local market, talk to former clients of any agents whom you might hire, and check to make sure that the agent's certification is valid and was earned through a reputable organization.
Success as a short sale agent is almost entirely dependent upon having an understanding of the requirements of the lenders responsible for the property being sold. Although there have been efforts to standardize the process, all lenders have their own specific requirements. Short sales exploded in the real estate market so quickly because of the global economic recession in the early 21st century that most lenders did not have the trained staff to handle the transactions. This caused a large percentage of transactions to become entangled in the process and never make it to completion.
In addition, many properties that end up in the short sale process have second and third mortgages. Often, these mortgages are held by different lenders who are not able to reconcile their demands. As a result, short sale applications might languish for six months or longer.
It is crucial, because of the unique lender situation, to work with a short sale agent with experience in the local market and familiarity with the lenders involved. To find the best short sale agent, talk to the bank or finance company that holds the mortgage on the property in question and ask for a list of agents familiar with their process. Get references from those agents, so that their former short sale clients can be interviewed about their experience with that agent.
Be cautious when choosing an agent based on advertising that claims that he or she is a certified short sale agent. Although this designation might have been earned through the completion of training through a reputable organization, it also might have been earned by little more than a brief Internet class. Even the best coursework is no substitute for real-world experience.