By Elizabeth Weintraub. Home Buying/Selling Expert
Elizabeth Weintraub has an extensive background in real estate spanning more than 30 years, including experience in related industries such as title and escrow. She is a full-time broker-associate at Lyon Real Estate's midtown Sacramento office and is recognized as a top producer. She is also a Life Member of the Master's Club, an honor bestowed by the Sacramento Board of REALTORS®, and ranks in the top 1% of all the agents at Lyon Real Estate.
CA BRE License #00697006
Home buyers who want a good deal in real estate invariably think first about pursuing foreclosures. Buyers have this picture in their mind of a cute little house, surrounded by a white picket fence that is owned by a widowed mom who fell on hard times, but that scenario is generally far from reality. The real picture is often ugly.
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Few choose to go into foreclosure voluntarily. It's often an unpredictable result from one of the following:
- Laid-off, fired or quit job
- Inability to continue working due to medical conditions
- Excessive debt and mounting bill obligations
- Squabbles with co-owner, divorce
- Job transfer to another state
During the market crash from 2005 through 2011, many home owners simply walked away from their homes because the values had fallen and they owed more than their homes were worth.
Negotiating Directly with Sellers in Foreclosure
Investors who specialize in buying foreclosures often prefer to purchase these homes before the foreclosure proceedings are final. Before approaching a seller in distress, consider:
- Foreclosure proceedings vary from state to state. In states where mortgages are used, home owners can end up staying in the property for almost a year; whereas, in states where trust deeds are used, a seller has less than four months before the trustee's sale.
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- Many states also require that buyers give to sellers certain disclosures regarding equity purchases. Failure to provide those notices and to prepare offers on the required paperwork can result in fines, lawsuits or even revocation of sale.
family out on the street. Oh, critics will argue it's just business and sellers deserve what they get, even if it's five cents on the dollar. Others will feign compassion and trick themselves into believing they are "helping" the home owners avoid further embarrassment, but deep inside yourself, you know that's not true.
Buying a Home at the Trustee's Sale
Check with your local county office to find out how sales in your area are handled, but common denominators among those I see in Sacramento are:
- No loan contingency
- Sealed bids
- Proof of financial qualifications
- Sizeable earnest money deposits
- Purchase property "as is"
Sometimes buyers are not allowed to inspect the house before making an offer. The problem with buying a house sight unseen is you can't calculate how much it will cost to improve the structure or bring it up to habitable standards. Nor do you know if the occupant will retaliate and destroy the interior. On top of that, you may need to evict the tenant or owner from the premises after you receive title, and eviction processes can be costly.
Another drawback could be liens recorded against the property that will become your problem after title transfer. Some investors who buy at trustee sales pay for a title search in advance to avoid this problem. These guys who show up to bid on the courthouse steps are professionals, and they buy foreclosures at auction as a business. They hope to buy the foreclosure at a low price to make a nice profit when they later flip the home. You do not need to hire a real estate agent to buy a foreclosure at the auction, but you do need to know what you are doing.
Buying a Foreclosure From the Bank
Many banks do not sell homes directly to investors or home buyers. If a bank is willing to sell homes individually and not in bulk sales, the bank will generally list the home through a real estate agent. There are REO agents who specialize in foreclosure listings.
It is more common to buy a foreclosure directly from the bank in a bulk sale purchase. In bulk sales, the banks will package a bunch of properties into one transaction and sell them all at once to one entity. That is the best way to buy a foreclosure, if you can afford it, because the discounts are typically the steepest.
Watch Elizabeth Weintraub's Video about How Foreclosures Work
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, BRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.