To buy a house that is a short sale, hire a real estate agent who is experienced in the short sale process, recommends Zillow. Because short sales need to be approved by the seller's bank, the process of buying a short sale is more complicated than typical home purchases.

In the case of a short sale, the seller requests that the bank accept a sale price that is less than the mortgage owed on the home, explains Zillow. The bank must approve the short sale before a buyer can close on the property. Before accepting less than the amount owed on the mortgage, the bank must determine that the seller does not have the resources to pay off the loan. The bank examines the seller's finances in detail, requesting extensive documentation.

Because the bank loses money on short sales, it does not have an interest in hurrying the process, says Zillow. Paperwork is often lost in the shuffle as the bank's customer service staff is allocated to more profitable projects. Additionally, two lenders are often involved in the approval process on the seller's end, which are the bank that holds the mortgage and another bank that holds the home equity line of credit, if one exists.