Due to the mortgage crisis of the past couple years, people have been losing their homes at alarming rates. Sometimes when people owe a lot of money to the bank for a home and they cannot afford it, the bank will foreclose on the house. Very simply, if you cannot pay for something, you cannot have something.
Other times the bank will agree to a short sale. If you agree to a short sale foreclosure can be avoided, but you must pick a lesser of two evils. A short sale occurs when the homeowner sells the house, but the proceeds from the sale are not enough to cover what the people still owe for the house.
A bank will agree to this when the homeowner is really destitute. It is better to get something than nothing at all, and often banks will call it even between themselves and the homeowner after a short sale. A home short sale is also beneficial for buyers of a home, as they can often get a great value home for very cheap.
You never want to have to get short sale help, but if you do, real estate agents know what to do. They can supply you with all the short sale help you need, and will likely do it for a low price. The obvious solution to avoiding having to short sale your house is to only buy a house you know you can afford. But if things go wrong and you do end up needing short sale help, turn to a real estate agent.