Real Estate Law
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Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you tonight.
There is no legal prohibition here from you buying the house here from the short sale buyer unless there was something in the short sale papers.California does not prohibit this by statute and there likely is not a problem with you doing so.Also since this has been many years again any restrictions likely expired.You will need to obtain a new loan here to complete the purchase.
You would want to do a sales contract here, any local title company can handle this and verify that there were no restrictions in the sales documents.You can proceed to get a loan and complete the purchase.
I appreciate the chance to help you tonight.I wish you the best here on the purchase and getting it back.I really do not think there is going to be any problem here assuming you can now qualify for the loan.