A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the proceeds from selling the property fall short of the balance of debts secured by the liens against the property, and the property owner cannot afford to repay the liens’ full amounts, and the lien holders agree to release their lien on the real estate and accept less than the amount owed on the debt. Any unpaid balance owed to the creditors is known as a deficiency. If you are looking to buy a short sale, just know that the process is often far from short and often takes between three and six months to close. The seller has to get all the lien holders to agree to take less money than they are owed and that process takes a long time. Especially if there is more than one lien holder.