Are you in the market to buy low priced distressed properties? There are some things you should know about buying foreclosures in Southern California.
Kinds of Foreclosures
First of all, it is important to understand that foreclosure is a process. The first step is called pre-foreclosure. This means that the property is in default and the bank may or may not foreclose on the property. The second step is a short sale. This is where the owner is trying to sell the property before the bank forecloses, but the market value is a little short of their balance due on the loan. Depending on the bank, they may or may not accept offers less than the balance due at this point. If the owner can get the bank to short sell, it is much better for their credit. The third step is the foreclosure auction. This is when the bank is trying to get the most money for the property in a short amount of time. The fourth step is an REO, which stands for real estate owned. If the property does not sell at auction, the bank then repossesses the property and places it on the market for sale.
Highest and Best
You may have to make a higher bid if other foreclosures are selling fast. This means other people are buying up foreclosures quickly, and if you really want to get in on this action, you may have to start off with an offer that is close to, or at asking price. If there are multiple offers, you may have to offer higher than asking price and try to keep the contract contingencies to a minimum if you really want that foreclosure. Remember, location and amenities matter, other foreclosures may be selling quickly if they’re in a great spot.
Prepare Yourself for “As-Is”
In most cases, the seller of a foreclosure is a bank, so there is not a traditional seller to make repairs before closing. The bank will not likely fix anything wrong with the home. They are selling it to try to make as much money back on their investment as possible. Make sure you include an inspection contingency so you can hire an inspector if you are making an offer on a foreclosure, that way you will know exactly what you are getting into if the bank accepts your offer.
Funding Your Foreclosure
Most buyers purchase foreclosures in Southern California with cash because of their frequently “below market” sales price. Cash is also the easiest and fastest closing, so banks often prefer cash buyers. There are a handful of banks that will provide financing for this purchase. They will require an appraisal of the property and this takes time, so if you are up against cash offers, make sure your offer is a competitive one. If the foreclosure doesn’t appraise as high as your offer, you will have to make up the difference.
Buying foreclosures in Southern California may come with additional costs above and beyond the purchase price and closing costs. If the owner couldn’t make the mortgage payment, you can probably assume he or she did not pay the real estate property taxes or homeowners association fees if the foreclosure is in a community. You might also become responsible for any utility bills, home equity lines of credit, or other liens on the property. Make sure the title company takes these factors into account when preparing the title commitment.
You will also have to take into consideration the additional cost of making the necessary repairs or cleaning when you buy a foreclosure. There is no cleanup requirement when these properties are seized, and the previous owners might be a little upset about the bank foreclosing on them and take it out on the property. Repairs to the home might also increase the assessed value and raise the taxes.