How to Buy a Foreclosed House: It’s a business — it’s an opportunity— it’s a risk

The way the media tells it, there are million of bargains out there that will be the house of your dreams and will make you rich. If it seems too good to be true, that would because it IS too good to be true. As a backdrop to this discussion remember that there are over 2 million homes that could be on the market but for the fact that the “owners” don’t want to flood the market. 2 million homes means there are too many homes for any foreseeable demand from buyers. That means that bargain prices are simply early predictors of where the market is heading. Those statistics, taken from over 500,000 homes reported and sampled, shows that the average “discount” is 15%-20%. In a normal market the discount would be real and relatively stable. In this market where we have 2 million homes already in the pipeline and around 3-4 million MORE homes coming it is not merely possible but rather likely that prices will continue to be depressed.

Add to that the credit crunch and the current environment where banks are reinstating underwriting standards where they verify the appraisal, verify your ability to pay, verify your history, verify other conditions affecting the value or future value of the home, and you have a seller’s glut with very little demand. Analysts from companies that maintain divisions employing economists now are estimating that it will take 6-12 years to clean up this mess. I think these estimates will change monthly until they give recognition to the fact that 10 years is about the best we could ever hope for, 30 years in about the worst case, and that the probable time will be something close to 20 years. That is 2 decades of confused downward price pressure, title errors, defects and defects, and figuring out how to undo the the chaos created by Wall Street.

That said, there are many reasons why you SHOULD buy a foreclosed home. First you SHOULD buy a home if you want to live in it — but beware that most people THINK they will live there a long time but frequently move within 3-5 years due to unforeseen circumstances. Financially, the likelihood that you will financially benefit from such circumstances is extremely low. Renting the same house or one just like it will probably cost no more than 60% of the monthly payment you would have even if you put 20% down payment. And you don’t get stuck trying to sell a house in a market that will basically be unchanged or worse than it is now.

Second you should buy a home on a short sale or otherwise, if you have capital and a good credit score and want to do something good. Let’s assume the house was originally bought for $450,000 and the buyer made a 20% down payment. So the buyer paid $90,000 PLUS all the improvements that are made, especially to a new developer tract house. So the sake of our example, the buyer now finds himself with a house that is currently “appraised” at $275,000. The “lender” refuses (actually lacks the authority because they are not really the lender) to modify the mortgage with a principal reduction, the terms are resetting so that the buyer’s payments are about to triple or have already done so. Assume they had no problem making the original teaser payments and could even pay more but not the absurd amounts called for under his current mortgage or deed of trust.

Let’s further assume the foreclosure has already taken place and the buyer is still in the home, awaiting eviction. With a little help from you and this post you get the homeowner to fight the eviction and start a confrontation where the homeowner is demanding discovery and is alleging a fraudulent foreclosure. Using average “discounts” you buy the house for $55,000 less than appraisal from the “bank” (actually a separate entity with dubious authority to have taken or retained title to the property since neither the forecloser nor the REO (Real Estate Owned) entity had one dime in funding the mortgage). So you have purchased the home for $220,000. Don’t get all excited. The original $450,000 price was false and even fraudulent. The next time that house sees $450,000 will be somewhere around the year 2040.

So now you make a down payment of 20% or $44,000. You have $44,000 into the deal plus whatever assistance you have the original buyer/homeowner. Your mortgage is $176,000. Using an amortization of 15 years fixed rate for 5%, your payments for principal, interest, taxes, utilities and insurance are probably going to be around $1250-$1350 per month. You give the original buyer/homeowner a lease requiring payments of $1600-$1700 per month plus a CPI (Consumer price index no less than 2% with no maximum) AND a pass through of increases in utilities, taxes etc. The lease is at least 5 years long. If you don’t have a homeowner willing to lease for 5 years, you are going to have trouble.

The lease is a net lease requiring the tenant to maintain the house. It renews automatically for additional terms of 5 years unless canceled with at no more than 9 months notice and no less than 6 months notice. Beginning with the end of the third year, the homeowners may have a two year option to buy the house at either the price you paid for the house, plus CPI or the current fair market value, whichever is higher. This option is good only in years 4 and 5.

You start negotiating with the “bank” or the REO with a demand for proof of title. See how-to-negotiate-a-modification

They will offer you indemnification, hold harmless and release. None of that means anything because most of them have either gone out of business or are about to go out of business. You ask “Who is the actual creditor here?” That will make them uncomfortable. You get rough and tough. And then you soften a little and use the procedure set forth below. Meanwhile the original buyer/homeowner starts threatening them because they obviously don’t have physical possession of the note or they have no rightful claim to ownership of it. The original buyer/homeowner makes demand and maybe even files suit demanding to know who the creditor is or was. This will soften up the game of the bank/REO.

Now let’s talk about how you are going to do this without being in the same mess that the banks, homeowners, title companies and others are in.

The attributes of a good solid purchase of a foreclosed home are:

  1. Warranty Deed
  2. Title Policy from large company without any exclusion relating to securitization of the prior owner’s loan. It would be best if the policy specifically mentioned securitization and stated affirmatively that there is no exception relating thereto.
  3. Friendly Quiet Title Action, in which the REO, the forecloser and all other known parties, at their expense bring a quiet title action naming the former buyer/homeowner and you, and naming John Does 1-1000 being the holder of mortgage backed securities who could have or who could claim an interest in the mortgage being extinguished by this deal. As long as the relief sought is ratification of the above deal and ordering the clerk of the County to remove the old mortgage and accept the new filings without any encumbrance other than your new mortgage and without any owner other than you.
  4. ONLY A FINAL JUDGMENT EXECUTED BY A JUDGE WILL GIVE YOU CLEAR TITLE. WAIT UNTIL THE TIME FOR APPEAL HAS RUN. INCLUDE A PROVISION WHEREIN YOU CAN RESCIND IF SOMEONE MAKES A CLAIM THAT THIS TRANSACTION WAS A FRAUD ON THE COURT WHETHER IT HAS MERIT OR NOT. IF SUCH A CLAIM IS MADE THEN AT YOUR OPTION YOU BECOME THE SUCCESSOR TO THE “BANK”  AND REO AND OTHER FORECLOSURE OR TRUSTEE SERVICES OR, AAT YOUR OPTION YOU CAN RESCIND THE TRANSACTION RECEIVING BACK ALL MONEY RECEIVED BY THE SELLING PARTIES TO THE TRANSACTION IN WHICH YOU PURCHASED THE PROPERTY.
  5. Indemnification from the forecloser
  6. Indemnification from the REO
  7. Hold Harmless from the Forecloser
  8. Hold Harmless from the REO
  9. General release from original buyer/homeowner
  10. Acknowledgment from your new lender that they were advised of the above and they agree that they will not make any claims against you for misrepresentation or misstatement based upon the securitization of the loan.

4 Responses

  1. For me it can be a risk if you don’t know what you are doing. Investing your money in a property that isn’t in the best condition. Also, you need to make a good financial plan to honor the debts before falling into a foreclosure situation

  2. In my humble view, you have to compare the cost of
    renting to the cost of buying over let’s say a ten year period.
    Renting may look cheap in a down market, but when you add it up over ten years, knowing for sure
    you will have no equity, it is very expensive indeed!
    When you buy in a down market, the odds are you
    will save money in the long term because long term
    trends are up, not down. Prices have fallen to the 1999
    levels and could go lower, but in 2019, I’ll bet they
    either go up a little or at worst stay flat. Meanwhile
    you got the tax benefit of owning as well as some equity buildup. So in the long term, you are better off
    owning and now is the time to buy when everyone else is selling. I did this during the savings and loan
    crisis of the early 90’s and it worked out well for me.
    All my friends and relatives thought I was crazy but
    they aren’t laughing now!

  3. […] how-to-buy-a-foreclosed-house-its-a-business-its-an-opportunity-its-a-risk My statements here relate to general information and not legal advice. Generally we the vast […]

  4. […] See how-to-buy-a-foreclosed-house-its-a-business-its-an-opportunity-its-a-risk […]

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