Just because a home is being sold by the bank, doesn't necessarily mean it's a bargain. Home prices have fallen dramatically from their peaks in 2006, a time when loose-lending practices allowed people of all credit ranks to easily obtain mortgages. Now, many homeowners going through the foreclosure process owe more on the mortgage than their property is actually worth. To make sure you aren't assuming an overpriced loan, research home values in the area. That way, you'll be better able to identify potential deals.
If you fall in love with a home in preforeclosure that's overpriced, then you can see if the bank will allow a short sale. This is when the bank accepts less for the home than the amount owed on the mortgage.
While not an ideal scenario, accepting a lower price is often in the bank's best interest. Banks typically spend $25,000 to $50,000 during the foreclosure process. On top of that, they typically end up reducing a home's asking price to match current market values.
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1. Learn about the different types of foreclosure properties, and the foreclosure process.
There are three basic types of foreclosure properties, representing different stages in the foreclosure process: notice-of-default (NOD) and notice of trustee sale (NTS), which are both pre-foreclosure properties; and real-estate-owned (REO), a foreclosure property which has been re-purchased by the bank.
For most consumers, buying a pre-foreclosure property from a private homeowner is the best option. It's important that both the buyer and the seller see the situation as a win-win situation, in order to ensure a smooth process. In this case, the seller is able to get out from under a mortgage without destroying their credit rating, the lender is saved the time and expense of foreclosing on the property, and the buyer gets a below-market price on a home.
Foreclosure auction sales are typically the domain of the professional investor. These properties are formally in default, and sold to the highest bidder at an auction. Buyers are required to be physically present at the auction, and must pay 100% of the sale price in cash, on the spot. Though foreclosure auctions can offer significant savings, they are not for the feint of heart or the uninformed. Unless the buyer is already familiar with a particular property, there is usually little time to examine it. And the buyer will be competing against professional investors and sometimes even the lender at the auction. Once the lender officially reclaims a home, it becomes a real-estate-owned property (REO). While REO properties typically offer more time for evaluation and a more standard bank-managed transaction, their prices are usually very close to full retail market value.
2. Secure Financing Early:
It's important for a buyer to be pre-qualified before engaging in discussions with a seller. This ensures that the buyer is in a financial position to purchase the property, and is in the strongest possible position to negotiate. It s best to work with a lender who understands the foreclosure process, and can guide the buyer through certain steps, such as ensuring that a property is FHA-compliant. Another reason to consider pre-qualification is that not all lenders finance foreclosure properties.
Having approved financing in-hand makes negotiations with both the seller and the lender easier, and may even make it possible for the buyer to simply cure the default and take over the existing loan to reduce loan processing fees.
3. Engage a real estate agent as a buyer's representative:
Most people hire a real estate agent to sell their home. These seller s representatives are charged with making the sale and negotiating the best deal for their clients. Buyer's representatives have the home buyer's interests at heart, and are charged with finding the right property and negotiating the best price for their clients. Picking the right real estate agent will make a buyer's life much easier. There are agents who specialize in the foreclosure market, with specific experience in REO properties. Look for an agent with foreclosure transaction experience, as well as knowledge of local, regional and state laws. But it s also important to consider the agent's knowledge of the area; their ability to close a deal; and their access to other professionals (attorneys, lenders, mortgage and title professionals) to ensure that the buyer is in good hands.
4. Do your homework:
Stocks offer higher potential returns for investors than traditional savings programs, but are also riskier. Similarly, purchasing foreclosure properties is somewhat more risky than buying traditional real estate properties, but offers much higher potential savings. With the right examination and due diligence, buyers can significantly reduce the risks. It makes sense to give any property under consideration a thorough examination. Here are eight steps for doing a professional-level exam.
5. Make a realistic offer:
Despite what you may see on late-night cable TV, investing in foreclosure properties isn’t a sure fire get rich quick formula. Lenders aren’t likely to give properties away, particularly in a real estate market where prices continue to rise. And homeowners in financial distress may be difficult to deal with, particularly early in the foreclosure process. The keys to a successful foreclosure property purchase are diligence and patience. As a rule of thumb, the best savings can be made at the pre-foreclosure stage, where home owners can avoid a foreclosure and lenders can save the time and cost involved in going through the process. Another critical point in the process is immediately prior to the auction date, when all parties might be most open to a last-minute solution. An educated buyer, one who knows how much is owed on the property and what its market value is, can usually come up with a realistic offer; one that offers significant savings, while meeting the requirements of the lender.