Q: I have put an offer on a single-family residence at $2,000 over the asking price. The property is a short sale and the bank has already received seven offers on it. The deadline to accept or deny my offer was 5 p.m. last Wednesday.

Instead of accepting or rejecting my offer, the bank contacted the agent saying they are waiting until Monday to make a decision. What are my options and what are they trying to do?

A: Here's what's happening: The bank is trying to make a decision in a timely manner and your attempt to force the issue isn't working. (Nice try, but no dice.) The property you are trying to buy appears to be a real estate owned (REO) property, a property that is now owned by the bank.

While you say it's a short sale -- a sale for less than what the homeowner owes on a mortgage --  it seems from your question that the bank already owns the home. It's now up to the bank to decide what price to accept for the sale of the home. If the original homeowner still owned the home, was selling the home, had an offer for the home that was less than the amount he or she owed the bank, and the bank accepted that lower amount, then the transaction would be considered a "short sale."

So, you have a choice. If your offer did not have a time limit on it, you can formally withdraw your offer or you can let it sit and see what happens.

Each lender has a process by which it has to evaluate each of the offers that has come in for an real estate owned property to see which one is the best -- best isn't always the highest offer, by the way. It could mean they're looking for the strongest buyer or one who is able to use the bank's financing (which is another way for them to recoup their investment.)

I'd have your agent stay in touch with the lender to smooth things along and make sure the lender has all the information he or she needs to make a decision. It's possible the lender will come back to you (and everyone else) on Monday to ask for another round of bidding. Or, the lender might simply come back and say, yes or no.

Unless you formally withdraw your offer, at that time you can decide whether to agree to purchase the property if you're given the opportunity.

By the way, I hope you're using a good Santa Cruz real estate agent or attorney. Foreclosures and short sales are tough purchases and I'd hate to see you get caught because you didn't have anyone representing your legal interest in the deal. Unless your agent is also a real estate attorney (and even if she is, she can't be both to you in the same transaction in some states), you should hire a santa Cruz real estate agent who has an attorney at her counsel.