Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Buy Short Sale Homes, PART 4

This is the 4th in a series about buying metro Phoenix area short sales homes.

Photo credit to I Can Has Cheezburger

Many, many potential buyers in the Phoenix market lately want to look at "short sales", "foreclosures" or "bank owned homes". Often they're not quite sure what these terms mean exactly, but they know the 10 o'clock news (or their brother's cousin's baker's tailor) says short sales are a spanking good deal.

See here for the differences between REOs, bank owned, short sales, foreclosures and preforeclosures. This article talks about buying short sales. Lender owned homes are a different ballgame and I'll address those soon. But regardless of type, the secret to buying one of these homes is organization combined with an open mind and a lot of patience.

ORGANIZATION - Getting the Deal Closed
Now you've got an accepted offer on the short sale or lender owned home of your dreams, what about closing the deal? Banks usually want you to close within 30 days of their acceptance. Sometimes they take their sweet time sending you the acceptance, thereby eating up some of your 30 days and some of your inspection period.

Get cracking! Are you working with a full time, professional Realtor who's 'got people' and can get a home inspection, roof inspection, A/C inspection and mold inspection done inside of 4 business days if necessary? You've got no worries. Working with your sister in law's cousin who does real estate on the side? Or working without a Realtor? You've got a challenge on your hands. Whatever you do, don't miss the deadline for the end of the inspection period.

Most banks will do no repairs. Even if the pool is green and the front porch is falling off, you're buying it as is. Over Fourth of July weekend I spoke with a loan processor who told me she had personally done a loan for a Buyer purchasing a short sale from HSBC bank. They'd done a bunch of repairs before the closing, and even did some repairs the Buyer didn't specifically request. This is exceptionally rare. Inspect it till you drop and expect it to be as-is on closing day.

Most banks also make you sign an addendum that removes most of the Buyer protections in the contract, institutes some additional Seller (bank) protections, and generally tilts the contract heavily in their favor.

If you're paying cash, you should know that your purchase funds must be immediately available on the closing day. Cashier's checks are acceptable. Wire transfers in US funds are acceptable. Canadian funds and checks drawn on Canadian banks are not acceptable. We don't discriminate against Canadians per se, because generally no foreign funds are acceptable.

Be aware that due to the USA Patriot Act and other federal regulations since September 11th, wire transfers take a long time to transit the federal wire system. I've seen wires take 8+ hours. Plan on having your wired funds arrive at the title office the day before closing. Expect a wire fee of about $25 to $75. Expect a currency exchange fee of about $15, if you're using foreign currency. I've been told by a very trusted and experienced title officer that she can't get anyone to tell her who collects that $15 fee and she has never had success at making that fee disappear.

Almost every bank imposes daily late fees if the Buyer holds up the closing. These are usually in the area of $100 per day. Getting a loan to buy the home? Make sure your lender has the loan documents at the title office at least a week or two in advance of the closing date. No sense taking chances and accruing hefty late fees. if you're out of town when the closing occurs, there will be FedEx shipping transit time to consider, so get loan docs to title early. Also, now is not the time to help your sister's kid who's just got in to home mortgages. Send your nephew a gift card and use a mortgage pro.

Buyer Lessons

  1. Play by the bank's rules.

  2. Make sure loan documents arrive early

  3. Send wire transfers early

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