Buying a foreclosed home – bank-owned – comes with risk but can be a great deal. Foreclosed homes are inundating the real estate market and can be a great opportunity.
Get an Inspection. Foreclosed homes are sold “as-is” and are owned by banks that don’t and won’t make repairs to the property. It must be understood that in most cases these homes have been poorly maintained as the owner often vacates the home because they could not make their mortgage payments. The maintenance and condition can be an issue because of the circumstances under which the owner had to move out and the amount of time the house has been unoccupied. Not every bank-owned property needs repairs – but many do. While you can’t get the bank to fix the problems the inspector finds, in many cases, you can use it to negotiate a lower sales price. An inspection helps you to know exactly what you are getting into.
Get comparative market analysis. Never assume that a foreclosed home is listed below market value. There is a common misconception that buyers will get a good deal on foreclosed properties. The bank’s goal is to recoup as much of their money as they can and will put the home on the market for more than it is worth. A good Realtor can help you know what prices of other homes in the neighborhood are selling. Knowing this information coupled with the inspection results, you will be better able to determine what price you will pay for the home.
The process to close on a foreclosure can take more time. The offer you prepare to make will go to a bank, not to an individual seller. There are many layers of approval that the offer must go through. Foreclosed homes more times than not run into title issues, such as uncovered liens on the property that can further delay and complicate the situation. Using a Realtor that is skilled in foreclosures is highly recommended.
The Bottom Line: Learn as much as you can about the foreclosed property as possible. Know your own financial situation because often buyers underestimate how much money they will spend to fix the property to make it habitable. A home in need of repairs is a big project to take on. Assess how you will pay for the property. If you don’t intend to pay cash, you should have a preapproval letter from a bank or other lender. Use a Realtor and consult with a real estate attorney who understands foreclosure law in your state.