The Dirty Truth About Foreclosures

Angry_bunny_4 Think you want to save money by purchasing a foreclosed home?  Prepare yourself for a long frustrating process.  These homes are often winterized, so you’ll have to arrange for the heat and water to be turned back on before you’ll be able to inspect their condition.  So they won’t show anywhere as nice as a lived in home being sold by a real person.

But they’ll be priced really well, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  Banks don’t price homes for what they’ll sell for in this market, in this condition, and with this marketing strategy.  They look at how much they’re in it for and start there.  If the bank is out $250,000 but the house is worth $125,000, I guarantee you that they aren’t going to sell it for $125,000.  But feel free to write an offer.  After four weeks, they might get back to you.

Be prepared!  They may or may not close on the scheduled closing date.  And even if closing goes through, they’ll send the final paperwork to be reviewed before they sign it and hand over the keys.  That can take hours, or days.  And you’ll be paying interest on your new mortgage that whole time.

And "short sales" are even worse.  In a short sale, the seller is negotiating with the bank.  So as a buyer, you have no one deal with.  You just sit and wait. 

And the real dirty truth is that a small minority of the folks in foreclosure are doing it on purpose.  It’s not that they can’t pay their mortgage, it’s that they can’t sell their house for what they owe.  So they stop paying until the bank takes over their problem.  They won’t be able to buy a new home after they ruin their credit, but they can rent.  Or in some cases, they buy the new house first, and then stop paying on the old house.




  1. Alex · May 2, 2008

    I’m curious: How is it that a bank can list a home for sale at an attractive price when they have no intention of selling the home for that price? How is this not fraud?
    They bring in bidders and hope someone will fall in love with the place and then cave to their demands when they counter with a huge amount above their list price.

  2. Ben Trudeau · May 2, 2008

    On a short sale, the bank doesn’t always set the price. The current owner and their agent do. Then after you write you offer, they ask for permission. It sounds shady, but even if they do get permission from the bank to list at a given price, the bank still reviews it and can possibly reject it.
    Fun, no?

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