What Is a Short Sale in Real Estate?

What Is Short Sale In Real Estate?What is short sale in real estate terms explained in plain English

The process of selling a house for less than what is owed on the mortgage is what is short sale in real estate.

That’s really all it is by the textbook definition. If the house has a $100,000 mortgage and it sells for $95,000, that’s a short sale. The sale leaves a $5,000 deficit, which is part of the short sale. The deficit can be any amount.

The actual process of the short sale is a far more detailed.

It starts with the homeowner and the house which has an underwater- which means the value of the mortgage is more than the value of the property. The homeowner has to be in a position where making the loan payments will either be difficult or impossible. What is short sale in real estate requires the sale price of the house to be less than what’s owed. If either of these two conditions are not met, then a short sale can’t happen.

Let’s take a closer look at these two criteria.


You qualify for a short sale if you have real reasons for not being able to make your house payment on time and consistently. Reasons a bank will find acceptable are:

• Lost job

• Salary or wage cut

• Medical expenses

• Involuntary transfer to another location

When you look at what is short sale in real estate, you don’t have to be behind on mortgage payments, but that helps. Getting behind does hurt your credit, so try to avoid this if you can. If you know hard times are coming, start talking to the bank before you get behind on payments. Some banks will require that you miss payments or are late before they’ll begin to discuss a short sale.

If you are already behind on payments can can’t make up the lost ground, then you’re in a good position to discuss a short sale at least from this angle.

Some reasons the bank will not accept for a short sale are:

• Poor spending decisions

• A baby on the way

• Bankruptcy

• Taking on more unnecessary loans

Writing for BankRate, Jennie Phipps, says a hardship letter to the bank is an excellent idea. She offers this advice, “The seller must explain why he or she cannot continue making payments. The sadder the story, the better. A seller who is simply tired of struggling probably won’t be approved, but a seller with cancer, no job and an empty bank account may.”


A short sale is “available even if the home’s market value is less than the total amount owed,” states a report at M&T Bank.

What is short sale in real estate means the sale price comes up short of meeting the amount owed on the home loan. Why would a home have a mortgage that is more than what’s owed?

During the housing bubble, a lot of people refinanced their house when values kept rising. Some people bought a house when the market was high. When the market collapsed and housing prices dropped, a lot of people were left owning a house that cost them more than it is worth.

Local depressions can drive what is a short sale in real estate. If a community suddenly loses a major employer and people leave town to find work, housing prices may drop. If there’s no one to live in the homes, then the prices will go down. The law of supply and demand holds true in housing.

Damage can lower a home value. If a house has extensive termite damage, the repair costs may well push the sale value of the home below what is owed. Take a home without any damage and in good shape. It has a value of $100,000. The home has a $90,000 mortgage. It’s not underwater. Take another home with the same mortgage and initial same value, but it needs a complete new roof, not just shingles or metal. This will cost $20,000, which he will have to borrow.

Instead of just owing $90,000 on the home, the homeowner has to add a new roof cost. Repairs means he will owe $110,000 on a $100,000 home. This qualifies the home for a short sale, if he can’t make the payments on the new loan.

For details about navigating the short sale process, read this primer.

Ted Thomas is a Florida-based author and publisher who specializes in distressed properties. Visitors to his website will find 3 must see FREE instructional videos. No credit card required. The video lessons will give you everything you ever wanted to learn about government tax defaulted real estate which is sold at public auctions for 10 cents to 20 cents on the dollar. You’ll also learn the secrets of tax lien certificates which pay guaranteed returns of 16%, 18%, up to 36%.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax DeeThe process of selling a house for less than what is owed on the mortgage is what is short sale in real estate.d State?

I’m Ted Thomas, and for the past 30 years, I’ve been involved in the tax lien certificate and tax deed business. It’s quite interesting.

I’ve had a long career in other parts of real estate that involved apartment properties, office buildings, and even foreclosures. However, nothing is more interesting than tax liens and tax deeds because the deals are so great.

Want to learn more about bargain real estate? Would you like to buy mortgage-free homes for pennies on the dollar? Or earn outrageously high interest rates? You can live the life of your dreams. Learn how with this FREE mini class!

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?

Tax Lien vs Tax Deed States

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about which state does what, but in a nutshell, approximately half of the states will be tax lien certificate states, and the other half of the states will be tax defaulted property states or tax deed states.

The big question today is, “Is Virginia a tax lien or tax deed state?”

Tax liens and tax deeds are quite entrepreneurial. In a lot of cases, the property owners don’t want the property anymore. Sometimes they just abandon it, and the property ends up in tax forfeiture.

When this happens, the government takes the property over and resells it. That would occur in a tax deed state.

Other states are very benevolent. They sell tax liens, and you could earn interest on tax lien certificates.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Tax Deeds

Tax liens and tax deeds are two distinctly different kinds of investments. So is Virginia a tax lien or tax deed state?

In the case of Virginia, they sell tax deeds, which means the state and the county will foreclose. They will seize the property because the property owner didn’t pay property taxes.

Savvy investors have learned that these properties come up for auction with starting bids of the back taxes, and the properties are mortgage-free.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Tax Deed Properties

property tax auctionsThere will be hundreds of properties across the state of Virginia sold at auction.

Virginia has over 95 counties, and all the counties are authorized to have a tax defaulted auction.

The counties within the state are separate entities, which means they can each have their own separate auction.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Unpaid Property Tax

Property taxes are due usually once a year, and they’re generally only about 1% or 2% of the value

The state legislature authorizes the counties to auction tax defaulted property. They mandate that the treasurer and tax collector levy property tax and collect the tax.

If they can’t collect the tax, then they will confiscate the property and remove the tenant.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Notices of Default

Prior to seizing the property, the county will send the owner multiple notices of default

A notice of default is a serious matter, and it will be in the public records. It will be in the newspaper and on the county website.

Property owners that don’t pay forfeit their right to own their property if they haven’t paid the property taxes.

Once the county has seized the property because of this tax burden, they will sell it at a public outcry auction.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Tax Deed Auction

The announcement is public; the treasurer will advertise the auction in the local newspaper and on the county’s website that tax defaulted properties are for sale.

The auction could be at the county courthouse, or it could be a public auction online. You’ll have to look each one of them up to see that.

What happens at the auction? The property is sold to the highest bidder

Learn how you can secure your financial future with this FREE mini class on bargain real estate investing. It’s a gift from me to you. Be sure to take advantage of it today!

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Auction Bargains

They’re going to auction these properties with starting bids of back taxes, and the county treasurer is authorized to wipe the mortgage off the public records.

In other words, you’re going to buy a property that is absolutely mortgage-free.

All 95 counties can hold an auction, and some counties will even have more than one auction.

Anybody can go to the public auction, and anybody can attend the auction online.

how to work from home effectively discount real estate

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Purchasing Tax Deed Property

If you were the winning bidder, what would you get? You’d get the deed to the property. It’s a tax deed state, and that means they’re going to sell the actual property. You would get the deed.

What has the county done? They’re taking the property from a defaulted tax list and now putting it back onto the tax roll.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Tax Defaulted Property Investing

Tax defaulted property investing is a little-known business that’s really quite lucrative, but it’s been around for well over 200 years.

There will be different auctions each year, and a county that’s in a state that has a lot of properties might sell real estate 1 or 2 times a year, like the state of California does. The state of Texas does it every month.

You need to find out about those auctions at the county records, and they will be announced online.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?

There are another 1,400 townships or municipalities in the nation, and those are separate taxing districts, which means a city or a township within the county could also be holding auctions.

We had 95 auctions in Virginia at those different county levels. Now we’re talking about another 40 auctions because there are about 40 townships and municipalities.

There are going to be plenty of auctions. It’s up to you to start learning that process so that you can attend those auctions and get these bargain properties.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?
Properties Sold for Pennies on the Dollar

When I say bargain properties, what am I talking about? I’m talking about properties that are being sold for the back taxes with no mortgage.

Most investors are not aware of township and municipal auctions, and there are opportunities to buy properties for absolute pennies on the dollar.

I’ve seen people buy property that had values of $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 for only $300.

This is happening across the United States in over 3,000 counties and 1,400 municipalities, all of which will have these auctions.

Is Virginia a Tax Lien or Tax Deed State?


Virginia is a tax deed state, which means Virginia counties and municipalities sell tax defaulted properties outright.

At a tax deed auction, the starting bids begin around the amount of the unpaid property taxes, making it possible to purchase properties for pennies on the dollar, and you get the property without a mortgage.

If you’d like to learn more, there’s no one more qualified to teach you how to invest in tax delinquent property than Ted Thomas, America’s leading authority on tax lien certificates and tax defaulted property investing.

Ted Thomas is the only one who provides full support and complete training with home study courses, Q&A webinars, live tutorials, workshops & web classes, and personal one-on-one coaching.

Ted Thomas classGet started today at no cost with Ted’s FREE Master Class, that reveals the incredible opportunities available in tax lien certificates and tax defaulted property. The class is only about 1 hour of streaming video and contains life-changing information! You can’t afford to miss it!

Follow us on:
social icon twitter Pinterest linkedin Instagram facebook1 cute facebook


Ted Thomas

Ted Thomas is America’s Leading Authority on Tax Lien Certificates and Tax Deed Auctions, as well as a publisher and author of more than 30 books. His guidebooks on Real Estate have sold in four corners of the world. He has been teaching people just like you for over 30 years how to buy houses in good neighborhoods for pennies on the dollar. He teaches how to create wealth with minimum risk and easy-to-learn methods.

The Ted Thomas Difference:

  • Ted is recognized as America’s Tax Lien Certificate & Tax Deed Authority and has been helping people with investing in tax defaulted properties for over 30 years.
  • Ted has built a team of certified coaches that have 70 combined years of auction experience and are available to his students by phone to guide and mentor you to avoid getting overwhelmed or worse, losing money
  • Ted has ironclad PROOF that what he is teaching you does work. With hundreds of successful students providing testimonials and a 4.9 Google rating which is unheard of in this industry.
  • Ted and his staff don’t hide behind a website; they can be reached during office hours at 321-449-9940.

Virtual Workshop

Retire Rich From Home

Book your seat today.