Buying foreclosed homes has become popular amongst real estate investors and individual buyers. While these types of properties are normally priced below market value they generally require some level of repair. Those who do not carefully inspect foreclosure real estate could end up investing in a money pit.

Foreclosed homes can be purchased through public foreclosure auctions or banks. When properties are repossessed, banks first list them for sale through auction. Auction attendees submit bids and often compete against several buyers.

Individuals purchasing foreclosure real estate through auctions should have a thorough understanding of how the auction process works, as well as the foreclosure laws of the state where property is located.

Some states allow foreclosed property owners to buy their house back within 30 days after being sold through auction. This can be quite disruptive when buyers have invested money for repairs or paid off creditor judgments to clear the title. This can also slow down repair progress as buyers do not want to invest in renovation work if there is a possibility the evicted homeowner will reclaim their home.

When houses go unsold through foreclosure auction they are returned to the servicing lender. At this point they become bank owned foreclosures. Other common references include real estate owned or REO homes.

Banks negotiate with lien holders to clear creditor judgments or tax liens in order to sell the property with a clean title. Banks also engage in eviction action to remove property owners refusing to vacate the premises.

These activities cost the bank money, so REO properties are normally priced higher than foreclosures sold through auction. However, buyers can purchase the property without the burden of removing liens, judgments, evicting property owners, or worrying that the homeowner will reclaim their house.

Just as when buying any real estate; buyers should engage in due diligence. At minimum, buyers should review comparable sales reports to compare purchase prices of other homes in the area; obtain real estate appraisals to determine current market value; and home inspections to determine the types of required repairs.

Banks reduce foreclosed home prices to account for the cost of reported repairs. Banks rarely reduce the asking price of REO homes unless substantial damage is discovered during property inspections. Buyers should obtain repair costs estimates to determine the true cost of the home. If the purchase price and repair costs equate to more than the appraised value, it’s best to pass and look for a better deal.

Most banks require buyers to obtain prequalified financing prior to submitting offers on foreclosed homes. When buyers purchase foreclosure real estate through public auctions they normally must present full payment to the auction house within 24 hours upon bid acceptance.

Individuals unfamiliar with buying foreclosed homes through public auctions or banks may find working with a foreclosure specialist to be helpful. Realtors can help buyers locate the type of property they desire and assist them through the process of buying foreclosed real estate.

Buyers may also want to consult with real estate investors experienced in buying distressed properties. Numerous real estate clubs can be found via the Internet. Buyers can participate in online investment groups or locate local real estate investment groups within their hometown.

Those who take time to become educated about the process of buying foreclosure real estate can minimize financial risks, locate the best financing deals, and obtain the best price for the property.

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