Buying a foreclosure is for the pros with a big checkbook. In Marin a “real” foreclosure is literally sold on the steps of the courthouse on Fifth Avenue in San Rafael. The buyers have several denominations of Cashers Checks that add up to the maximum they will pay. They bid against each other and the bank that holds the loan on the house and is foreclosing on it. The bank has the upper hand because they don’t have to write a check unless the bidding goes over the loan amount.
You will be bidding on a house you likely have not seen on the inside. No bank will lend you money until you buy the home. This is a cash transaction that does not come with title insurance.
When you hear someone say they bought a foreclosure that usually means they purchased a home that has already been foreclosed on by the lender. They are known as REO’s, which stands for Real Estate Owned (by the bank). When buying an REO the paperwork sucks. Banks expect buyers to start their inspection and financing timelines without so much as a signed offer acceptance from the bank. In many cases the acceptance of the offer is conveyed to the buyer verbally. As you know, in real estate verbal does not cut it, the law requires everything in writing. But as long as you are getting a good deal are you really going to fight with the bank that selling the house?
Homes are also sold in pre-foreclosure status which may mean the seller had a notice of default (they are late in mortgage payments) or it is a short sale. In a short sale the seller gets the bank to agree to sell the home for less than the amount owed.