Buying a Foreclosed Home: What You Need to Know

Buying a foreclosed home at auction or from a lender can be a way to purchase a property at a discount, and who doesn’t like a discount? But purchasing a foreclosure property can be a complicated transaction. Here’s what you need to know about the process of buying a distressed home.

What, exactly, is a foreclosure property?

A foreclosed home is when a lender or lien holder seeks to take a property from a homeowner to satisfy a debt. The lender can either take ownership of the property or, most likely, sell the property to pay off the debt. The lender typically isn’t always looking for top dollar on this loan-gone-bad, just a fair price that will at least cover the unpaid mortgage.

What is pre-foreclosure?

A pre-foreclosure property is not necessarily for sale. The pre-foreclosure stage is the period after a default notice has been sent to the homeowner and before the property is sold at a foreclosure auction. The owner may be working to fix the loan default or be hoping a cash buyer will purchase the property before foreclosure, which would damage his or her credit. Most experts consider this the most difficult stage during which to purchase a distressed home; you’ll be dealing directly with the owner, not a bank or mortgage company.

Although the pre-foreclosure stage can yield some great deals, transactions are often tricky because most of these houses are not yet on the market and, if the owner pays off the debt, may never be for sale. If you’re still interested, read 10 tips to guide you through the search and purchase of a pre-foreclosure home.

How does a foreclosure auction work?

If you’re an auction newbie, attend a few with the intention of learning not buying. Some are small trustee auctions that don’t take long; others are held by large auction firms and include multiple properties. Seeing how the auction works will prepare you to jump in once you’ve found a property you like. Once that happens, use Zillow’s Foreclosure Estimate to determine what the home will likely sell for.

When you’ve found a property you want to bid on, contact the auctioneer or trustee to determine how much money you need to bring to the auction; the amount varies from state to state. Many auctions require bidders to bring a certified check for $5,000 made out to the auction company to show legitimate intent. In some cases, a percentage of the winning bid is required on the day of the sale. Make sure you research auction requirements in your state before bidding on a foreclosure.

And remember that your auction bid is absolute. Read more about foreclosure auctions, including tips from veteran auction-goers.

How to find foreclosure properties

To see pre-foreclosure and foreclosed properties on Zillow, enter your search area, click “Filter,” and then click the “Pre-Market” category. Or you can check Zillow’s Agent Finder to find agents who have experience with foreclosures; open the “Advanced” menu under Service Needed and click Foreclosures in the list of Specialties. Your agent will guide you to foreclosure property listings on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a real estate professionals-only database.

Other sources of distressed property information include newspaper legal notices, bank websites, and government websites such as the Federal Housing Administration. Beware of ad-based, subscription websites because which may include inaccurate or outdated listings.

A few words of caution

Distressed properties are generally sold “as-is,” as in what you see is what you get. There are no warranties so make sure a certified inspector looks over the property before you make an offer. You need to know how much it will cost to make the place habitable or flippable.

Lenders typically clear the title before listing a foreclosure, but it’s wise to hire a title company to research and cure title problems before closing on the property.

It’s also a good idea to have your financing lined up before making a bid. But even if you offer cash, don’t expect a deal on a bank-owned property to proceed quickly. Multiple pairs of eyes must review the deal and respond to your offer. It could take weeks, so be patient.

For more details about buying foreclosed properties, check the Foreclosure Buyers Guide in Zillow’s Foreclosure Center.

Source: zillow.com

7 Myths About Buying a Foreclosure Home That’ll Surprise Deal Seekers

Considering buying a foreclosed home? Any home buyer looking to pay below market value should be paying attention to foreclosure listings. But the process of buying a repossessed home is full of misconceptions—and we’re here to help separate the false stereotypes from the reality.

These are some common myths that need to be set straight.

Myth 1: The house must be bought in cash

That all depends on what stage a foreclosure property is in, says Bill Gassett with Re/Max Executive Realty in Hopkinton, MA. If the home is in pre-foreclosure or “short sale,” the buyer does not need to shell out an all-cash offer.

“They can procure a mortgage just like any traditional sale,” Gassett says.

If the bank sells a property at public auction, the mortgage holder usually does require that the home is bought with cash and mortgage contingencies are not allowed in the sale.

If you don’t have a lot of cash on hand but know you’d like to buy a home in foreclosure, Bobbi Dempsey, author of “Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures,” suggests drawing from a line of credit obtained using current property.

When the foreclosure is a bank-owned property, Gassett says the bank is usually actively looking for an end buyer.

“The purchaser of a bank-owned property is almost always able to procure a mortgage as part of the contract with the bank,” he says.

Myth 2: Buyers forfeit their right to have a home inspection

Definitely not true! Buyers have the right to do a home inspection and ask for repairs, but banks or sellers aren’t required to make them, says Rob Jensen, broker and president of Rob Jensen Co., in Las Vegas. But home inspections are actually encouraged since nearly all banks sell their foreclosed homes in as-is condition, and want to avoid liability down the line.

“It is common for structural, electrical, and plumbing issues that pertain to the safety and integrity of the home to be repaired, but there’s no guarantee,” says Jensen. “Every bank and every deal is different.” However, don’t count on the bank to fix those cosmetic issues.

Jensen says paint, carpet stains, and other minor blemishes are not likely to be addressed.

Buyers considering a foreclosure should make sure the sales contract has a contingency clause that requires a passing home inspection. This way, buyers can either choose to accept any issues with the home or back out of the contract.

With courthouse sales, however, homes are sold as they are, with no inspection.

Myth 3: Foreclosure homes require huge overhauls

It’s incorrect to assume that all homes in foreclosure are in shoddy condition. A large percentage of foreclosures are the result of job loss, illness, death, divorce, or even fluctuations in the real estate market, which means many of these homes were well maintained and may need only minor touch-ups.

“It quite often depends on the attitude of who last owned the property and whether or not they went out of their way to destroy the place,” says Jensen.

Myth 4: Foreclosures sell at heavy discounts

A common belief is that a foreclosure home will sell for at least half of its original value. But remember, the bank still wants to make a profit. Buying a foreclosure home can save you green, but the seller will hold out for the maximum price possible.

Home buyers often make a beeline to foreclosures because they think they can get a home for pennies on the dollar. But, Jensen says, by the time they factor in the time and renovation costs, they may reconsider.

“Foreclosures can provide opportunity to save, but you usually need time and extra cash to take advantage of it,” he says.

Myth 5: Foreclosure homes carry hidden costs

The fear of hidden costs may send would-be buyers running, but it’s not necessarily a worthwhile concern.

“A lot of the costs involved are typical for any real estate purchase—things like inspections, appraisals, transfer fees, etc.,” says Dempsey.

Yes, repairs or liens on a foreclosure can prove costly, but a home inspection will reveal any potential problems during escrow (this is where that inspection contingency comes in handy).

Also, the property deed can be researched on a foreclosed home. And, buying a HUD home or REO (or real estate–owned property) means the Department of Housing and Urban Development is required to clear the title of liens before it resells the home. Lenders will usually clear them, too, but buyers should make sure of that before they purchase.

“Generally speaking, there are not any more hidden expenses in purchasing a foreclosed home than there would be in a traditional sale,” says Gassett.

Myth 6: Foreclosures lose value faster than regular homes

Foreclosed homes actually tend to rise quickly in value. With any home, there’s no guarantee it will deliver increases, but buying a foreclosure sold below market value can provide instant equity. And any extra work done to the home can only increase the value.

“There are a variety of factors that influence home values, including economic conditions, local market conditions, and the overall condition of the property,” says Andrew Leff, senior vice president and head of strategic alliance programs at Wells Fargo in New York City.

Myth 7: Buying a foreclosure is risky

Let’s be honest. Any real estate purchase comes with risk. Gassett says the only scenario where there’s some extreme risk is when buying at auction, since you are buying the property as is. Buyers are not able to conduct a professional home inspection and often not even able to see the inside of the property. Plus, they will be inheriting whatever came with the home.

“For example, if there is a lien on the property, you could become responsible for it. When buying a home at auction, it is essential to do a title search first,” says Gassett.

Leff says buyers should be informed before entering into any type of real estate transaction. This means aligning themselves with resources that can help them navigate the purchase and financing process with confidence.

“A knowledgeable real estate agent and lender can help ensure that a buyer is making an educated decision so that the property and any resulting financing is the right fit for them,” says Leff.

Source: realtor.com