Buying a home in foreclosure

May 19, 2009 9:38:41 PM PDT
Anita Singlas thought she would never find an affordable house. That was until making a game-changing decision to research homes that are in foreclosure.

"I had a very small budget just started a new job and I wasn't finding any homes so this was the best option," Singlas said.

After months of scouting neighborhoods Singlas put in a bid at a county auction.

Sounds easy, but buyer beware. The auction process takes planning and should involve a savvy real estate professional or attorney.

"We have situations where the house is being foreclosed. The condition of house and occupants make it a terrible deal and it shouldn't go forward," attorney Anthony Capetola said.

Singlas' new home is filled with junk from the delinquent owner. She doesn't see it as a dealbreaker. She put a non-refundable 10 percent down payment on it in court without knowing what else was inside.

That's right. The bidder doesn't typically get a set of keys to the house until after the sale.

"I like buying the shell and having the property to fix the way I want it," she said.

But it's not for everyone. Attorney Adam Browser says he sees it often. Buyer's remorse.

Once you bid, it's yours, but not necessarily yours to live in. The bank transfers the house to you along with any baggage.

"There's someone who may be in there who may be angry and damage the property," Browser explained.

Another option is pre-foreclosure, which is considered a moderate risk.

Experts suggest going to county court to make a list of filed delinquencies heading toward foreclosure, and then they suggest do it yourself door knocking.

The tough part is a dreaded speech telling the person you know they have a problem and you think you have the solution.

A last option is post-foreclosure houses, which experts consider low risk.

"If you are risk shy, then I think it's a better way to go," Browser said.

That's because the foreclosure is now off the auction block and in the hands of a realtor. You might not get the same deal that you could have at the auction, but the risk goes way down and the responsibility -- meaning the person who's misfortune has become your gain -- is no longer in the picture.

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