What Is a Short Sale (Real Estate)?

This term in real estate means a sale that takes place when a financially troubled homeowner sells their property for a lower price than the amount due on the mortgage. The buyer of the property is a third party (not the bank), and all proceeds from the sale go to the lender. The lender has two options available—they can forgive the remaining balance or go after the homeowner through a deficiency judgment, which requires them to pay the lender all or part of the difference. In some states, this difference must legally be forgiven in a short sale.