By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
Bargain shoppers are on the hunt for foreclosures, so get ready to help them find a hidden gem. But first, you might benefit from some pointers. After all, buying foreclosures can get tricky — whether you’re making the purchase at auction, through a bank, or from an emotional and financially-strapped home owner. In the new book Finding Foreclosures (Entrepreneur Press, 2007), real estate investor Danielle Babb and mortgage broker Bill Nazur take you through the complexities of buying foreclosed properties, from finding the best deals to avoiding common pitfalls.
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FROM THE BOOK: 5 WAYS TO GET GOOD FORECLOSURE DEALS
Foreclosure rates are spiking and brewing up a hot market for investors and buyers. To get the best deal possible, follow these tips from the authors:
1. Timing is everything. Borrowers often are given a chance to avoid foreclosure with a grace period, typically two to three months, to pay off the amount they owe. The borrower may opt to sell the property during this pre-foreclosure stage if they can’t make up their missed mortgage payments. This is typically the best time to strike a deal, as home owners are looking for ways to avoid foreclosure. Another prime time to buy: prior to an auction date.
2. Look in the right places. Follow the foreclosure trail. Title companies, banks, purchase money escrow offices, and credit unions can be good sources to find out about new foreclosures. Online services, such as RealtyTrac provide national information on foreclosures, broken down into such categories as bank-owned, auction, and pre-foreclosure. The Hudson & Marshall Web site has auction schedules and even lets you make bids online.
3. Know when to walk away. For properties that have been left vacant for any amount of time, it’s important to check for any plumbing or electrical issues, vandalism, foundation problems, and mold. Recommend that your clients spend money on a home inspection to ensure they’re not overlooking problems that would be expensive to fix. Even if the property’s price tag has been steeply discounted, it still might not be the best deal.
4. Do your research. Before buying a foreclosed property, your clients should have the home appraised to get an accurate estimate of value. Also, they should ensure the title is clear and check for any liens — such as builder liens and taxes — that need to be paid off. This is public information and usually can be found at a county’s recorder’s office. Find out how much is owed on the home and make a list of everything that needs to be repaired, with an estimate of costs (add 10 to 20 percent to pad it). Now, you’re ready to make an offer.
5. Buckle your seatbelt. Foreclosure deals often move fast and require constant monitoring as properties wind their way through the process. Home owners who were in shock or denial or banks that have taken over ownership of the property may initially reject your offer. But don’t give up. Follow up is key — especially as an auction or REO time nears, they may change their mind. “The early bird definitely gets the worm in the foreclosure market,” the authors say. Remember, if it looks like a great deal, other buyers are undoubtedly looking too. Therefore, make your offer more appealing, such as by being able to close in 14 to 21 days. While escrow periods are usually 30 days, you can find some banks that can act faster.
“The owners of homes in foreclosure can be extremely frustrating to work with, but put yourself in their shoes. They may feel embarrassed, ashamed, or inadequate, especially if they have a family. They may feel like they have failed, and here you are, Ms. Money Bags, coming in to take their home from them for lower money than it is worth …. If you insult them, annoy them with phone calls, make them feel lower than they already are feeling, or treat them in a lesser way than you’d want to be treated in this situation, you are sure to lose the deal, not to mention kick someone while they are down.”
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Bill Nazur is a licensed real estate professional in California, and has more than 20 years of experience as a mortgage broker, real estate finance specialist, and in sales and marketing. He’s worked for major lending institutions, such as Bank of America and Washington Mutual. Co-author Danielle Babb, author of Commissions at Risk (Kaplan Business, 2006), is also a California licensed real estate professional and a technology specialist in real estate.
Check back on Monday, Nov. 5, to read the authors’ responses to your previously submitted foreclosure questions.