New law for cash investors on REO’s (bank owned property)

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

This is a great opportunity, because of very low prices, for first time buyers to finally get into the housing market.  Those that have saved a down payment (sometimes as low as 3% with FHA financing) and have documentable income can buy a home that just a few years ago may have cost twice as much.

The problem is many of these homes have multiple offers, ten or more is not uncommon in Marin county.  It is not unusual that the majority of those making offers are cash investors that have no plan on living in the home.  Nothing wrong with that, after all the United States is a capitalistic society which is not a dirty word.

The sellers, big banks many of whom received bailout money favor cash offers as do most sellers.   There should be some regulation that would put intended owner occupied buyers on the same footing as cash investors.  If the buyers have a down payment and proof of income and fully qualify for the purchase REO banks should not be allowed to accept a lower cash offer from a non owner occupied investor.  These qualified buyers are the type that build communities, have an interest in local events and tend to keep up the homes and therefore the neighborhoods.  This just seems like a no-brainer to me especially if the REO bank is using OUR bailout money.

So you want a foreclosure?

Monday, June 29th, 2009

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.

Warren Carreiro

How to Purchase a Foreclosure

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

It is not uncommon for a client to ask me about purchasing foreclosure homes.  We hear the misleading ads on the radio, “I just bought a home for $199 a month”.  While that number is totally unrealistic in Marin, foreclosures can be a bargain.  In some parts of the country banks and other owners have foreclosure auctions, other than the occasional homeowner (usually with an unrealistic reserve) I have not seen this in Marin. Although our foreclosure rate is significantly up from prior years it still is very low and most foreclosed properties are taken back by the bank.

In Marin, properties in foreclosure are sold at the court-house steps.  Buyers with cashiers checks (for the full amount) bid against each other and the bank.  The bank does not need a cashiers check because it is their loan that would be paid off.  Okay, get this straight, you need cash to buy the home, often you have never seen the inside of the house, and you many not be sure the title is completely clean.  Once you win the auction you can get title, go to a bank and then (after you bought the home) try to get a loan.  You also get to evict the occupants and finally see the inside of the home you just purchased.  The experienced buyers have lots of cash and make a bundle on most of them but do loose their shirts on about one in ten.  This is a rich person’s game as most of us don’t have the extra cash laying around and can’t afford our one purchase to be the dog that is a money looser.

So the court-house auction does not work for most of us but the next best thing is post foreclosure, bank owned property (REO – real estate owned by the bank). Once a bank takes a home back they want to sell it quickly because they are in the business of lending money, not owing excess homes.  These REO homes are priced (usually) realistically, as the banks wants to dump them within a month or two. Caution here; just because a home is an REO does not mean it is a good deal and the banks will negotiate.

If you are interested in looking for these homes ask your agent (or me if you don’t have one) as it is easy to do a search in the Marin MLS.

Novato Short Sale – Are They Closing

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Novato has half the Short Sale listings in the Marin MLS (B.A.R.I.E.S.) yet they are not closing escrow at anywhere near the rate they are going into contract. Short Sales in general have a high escrow fall-out rate and most of the time that is due to the bank taking too long to respond to legitimate offers. The banks are overwhelmed with paperwork from poor performing loans and don’t seem to know how to deal with the situation.

Here is the interesting part; Novato currently has 121 Short Sale listings and 48% of them are in contract (various stages of the sale process). If that percentage were actually closing escrow it would represent a very strong Sellers Market, which is definitely not the case.

In July 2008 Novato had just 9 Short Sales close escrow. Assuming the number of listings was similar in July to this August, which it is that means that less than 20% of the Short Sales are closing which is way off from the 48% in contract.

What happens to these homes when they fall out of escrow? Some go back on the market to give it another go but many are taken back by the bank and sold as bank owned property (REO – Real Estate Owned “by a bank” ).