A foreclosure offers the opportunity for you and your partner to purchase a home for less than its sticker price. These bank-owned properties can be purchased without a real estate agent as long as you know the foreclosure laws in your state. If you understand these regulations, you’ll find yourself saving on any fees associated with agents and have more control over your fate as a buyer.
Know the Laws in Your State
Foreclosures are heavily regulated on both the federal and state level. Each state has its own set of laws regarding bank-owned homes, so it is imperative for you to walk into your search with a clear understanding of local foreclosure legislation. Failing to do so could result in criminal or civil charges. An overview of your state’s foreclosure laws can be found online at you local government’s website. If you have any specific questions, you can always contact a local real estate attorney for guidance.
Narrowing Your Choices
Before jumping into the fire with an offer, find the neighborhood you prefer to move to. There are several private and government-run websites that will show you foreclosed properties in your town. Some of these may charge a fee to use their database. Understand that while you may find the right home for your price, there may be a significant amount of repairs needed. Expect to add about 10 percent to the final price of your home for repairs.
Submitting Your Offer
Once you’ve found the home you want, it’s time to submit an offer. Since you will have to pay the amount of the home up front, you can either pay in cash or see if a bank will pre-approve you for a loan. Once you have your finances figured out, go forward with your offer. Be smart with the offer you initially put forward. While the bank may be offering a certain price, it’s always best to go beneath that amount, especially if there are issues with the home or if it’s been on the market for a long time. You should only go over the offered price if there’s high demand for the property.
When negotiating with the bank, be sure to keep your offer reasonable. Low-balling the bank may cause it to walk away from negotiations for good, locking you out of any further discussions for the property. If you do offer a wholesale price, it’s best if you present your reasons for the offer in writing and in person with the bank or agent. By giving a specific reasons for buying the house at such a low rate, you may find the chance of your offer being accepted to be significantly improved.
Offering a Deposit
The chance of your offer being approved may also be helped if you make a good-faith deposit. Offering a percentage of the sale price during negotiations and to close quickly may cause the bank to favor you over other prospective buyers. However, if you do put money down, be sure you’re 100 percent sure of the property. Many contracts include a clause that you forfeit your deposit if you back out for any reason.
Travis Ames has written for numerous publications since 2007 and has been writing instructional articles online since 2010. His areas of expertise are wide and include travel, politics, arts and entertainment, technology and finance. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon where he will begin teaching in the fall of 2011.