Real Estate Investing – Foreclosures

Many new real estate investors trying to figure their way through the maze of opportunities come to a point where foreclosures seem to be the best place to start. One glaring reason is because the foreclosure market presents an opportunity to invest in real estate that is readily below market value?sometimes. Although it is highly unlikely that many new investors are prepared to begin their investment/business strategy purchasing foreclosure real estate, we felt it was necessary to point out some of the basics of the foreclosure process. Again, we want to stress these are the basics of foreclosure investing.

When a borrower defaults on their loan, a bank takes possession of the property through different proceedings, depending on the state the property is located. In title theory states mortgage lenders may possess the property upon default of the borrower. In lien theory states lenders must go through the process of foreclosure. In lien theory states, a mortgagor (borrower) is provided with a cure date, whereby they are given the chance to rectify matters with the mortgagee (lender), usually by bringing the loan current.

If the mortgagor fails to do this, the bank will utilize legal representation for enforcing foreclosure proceedings. Aside from all the legal proceedings, what the investor should know is that their usually will be a public auction where the bank offers the property to the public. Auctions are usually held at public places such as the steps of the town hall where the property is located. The public is made aware of these proceedings through public notices.

These procedures are in place in order to protect the borrower, the lender, lawyers, and county employees from corruption or claims of any wrong-doing. The investor participates in this process by acquiring real estate below market value. At an auction, a lawyer announces the details of the foreclosure and the bidding process begins, with the bank attorney present to oversee the bidding process.

Usually the bank will announce the minimum bid they will accept. This minimum is set by the bank based on the loan amount outstanding and all associated fees the bank has incurred throughout the process. Bids can be in increments of $1000 or more depending on the financial details of the property. People who bid, in most states, must have at least 5% of their bid on their person, in cash or bank check, to put down as earnest money if their bid is successful.

As the investor, you will want to determine the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the property before you attend the proceeding. Then you will need to bring five or ten percent of that amount with you on the day of the auction. It?s a good idea to attend a few auctions in order to determine some of these important details. You must consider the possibilities of damage that may be present in the dwelling, since you will most likely be unable to view the property, unless you visit the house to talk with the owners prior to the auction, during the pre-foreclosure process.

At an auction, undoubtedly, what will transpire will be two or three individuals bidding on the property. Then another person will enter the bidding process. Finally, the beginning bidders will drop off and the bidding will break down between two or three individuals. It is probably a good idea to wait it out because, depending on your maximum bid amount, you will find that the bids will exceed your maximum bid. So you never have to become involved in the process. Just don?t wait too long and miss your opportunity if it arises!

If you have the fortunate opportunity to attend an auction on a property you want where no other bidders are present, negotiating directly with the bank may be advantageous. What this means is, after the bank representative states the minimum bid, you might offer a significantly reduced price and then negotiate with the bank rep. The reason I?m including this in the article is because I?ve been present at an auction where their was only one bidder (I was not bidding on this particular property).

This bidder made the mistake of actually offering $1000 more than the minimum without even negotiating with the bank rep. Clearly this was a bid oversight by this (probably) new ?investor? with no other bidders and no one around except for me. It?s best to always remember that anything and everything regarding real estate is negotiable.

Now if the bank is unsuccessful in their attempts to auction the property, it is then listed with a real estate agent. If the mortgage was insured through an FHA loan, the property will become a ?HUD home? and any investor who has any interest in the property as a non-owner occupant must wait a specific period of time before making any offer. Check with your local HUD office for details.

Banks also have REO (real estate owned) listings that investors can acquire. There are many different websites offering the service of compiling foreclosure listings throughout the country. Banks will usually want to see that a bid is accompanied with a good earnest deposit and loan pre-approval (not pre-qualified) or a cash deal.

For more state information on what type of title is held with regard to real estate, visit Buying foreclosures can be very lucrative and the auctions are exciting. The process of acquiring a foreclosed home is a good way to learn about financing and can be a valuable experience in understanding real estate ownership and financing.

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