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Here are some tips that, if taken, will make the experience go more smoothly.
Interview several lenders. Find one you understand. You want the straightforward truth, not any form of double-talk, or run-around. I work with several knowledgeable, experienced, straightforward reputable and honest lenders. I can point you to them. You want to be fully qualified for a loan that you are confident you can pay back according to its terms before you begin to shop for a home. The only unknowns when you begin to shop should be whether or not the property you choose will appraise high enough that it will be acceptable collateral for the lender, and is the condition of the property up to either inspector's standards, appraiser's standards, or both. Sometimes foreclosed homes can have issues that are not readily visible, not easily caught by a home inspector...and foreclosed homes are exempt from state Property Disclosure requirements.
There are many different types of foreclosed property;
HUD homes (which I am authorized to sell...one of only a couple Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County brokerages able to do so) can be purchased on a bid basis...somewhat complicated but that's my problem, not yours...
FHA and VA Foreclosed homes...pretty straightforward, typically listed by brkers and available through the MLS.
Conventional Lender foreclosures...also typically listed on the MLS by brokers, hopefully local brokers but not always.,known in the biz as REO properties, which stands for "real estate owned".
And privately financed foreclosed properties...which are foreclosed at the Whatcom County courthouse on a Friday in the AM...much the same process as a lender foreclosed property.
So let's say you, I or we locate a foreclosed home. We gain access either through an MLS lockbox or other means, and we decide that this home will be pursued to purchase. By this point we have hopefully established a proper value, typically through seeing enough homes or by using a Comparative Market Analysis. I have been selling homes locally in Bellingham and Whatcom County for many years now, and usually have a good estimation of most of the area home's values. But, even I need to brush up on our oftentimes static property values, and this knowledge we will share. I would like you, the buyer, to be secure in your knowledge of local real estate value, so that when the right home appears we both will know approximate value.
Writing up an offer is much the same as with any other home. Our MLS has preprinted forms that I've used for many years now. We put pen to paper, then I communicate with either the seller or the seller's agent, where applicable. While my general rule of thumb is to present offers personally, with foreclosed/REO properties it is much less emotional and more a matter of terms and price. I'll get the offer to the right place, and wait. Sometimes this waiting process can be one day, but usually it can take several days or even weeks. The lender/REO usually has their own forms, and there is hardly a time that we can deviate from using their forms designed by their attorneys. If we do get a response, either an acceptance or most likely a counter-offer, I review these as well. Then we get together and decide what route to pursue. Sometimes the counteroffer will make no sense...after all, the lender/REO probably has very little knowledge of the property and relies on either local brokers price opinions (BPO's) or appraisals, and/or the listing agent's opinion. Usually it is a combination of the three.
If we reach a mutual acceptance, we'll proceed through the escrow process as with any other home. You will receive Title Insurance as well. You can expect clean title with no "clouds" or encumbrances on title. You may begin the inspection/feasibility process. You will have the right to get it appraised too. Hopefully we'll proceed to closing!
If you have any questions about this process, just e-mail or call me. I'll be happy to help! I've sold plenty of Bellingham and Whatcom County Foreclosed/Foreclosure properties.
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