All of us want a bargain.
There are no better bargains in real estate today than the purchase of distressed properties at substantially less than fair market value. The process is not complex, but success in this field requires a large amount of time to research and a more modest amount of money.
Five Ways to Acquire
In general, there are five basic ways to acquire foreclosures at discounted prices. All but one of them permit the buyer to pay for qualified assistance from other sources (such as a title and / or escrow company. Unfortunately, the most popular technique (buying properties at the trustee's sales) allows no such luxury. The purchasing process at the trustee's sale requires each buyer to make his own thorough investigation of both title and debt on the chosen property within a limited time frame.
The first and simplest way to buy properties under the fair market value arises when the delinquent (not defaulted) owner is uncovered. The delinquent buyer will not have made recent payments of principal, interest, taxes or insurance and / or may have reduced the value of the property through benign negligence or lack of funds. When the delinquent owner realizes that he will be unable to meet the commitments on promissory notes and trust deeds for an extended period, he may choose to sell his property even at a discounted price rather than proceed through the foreclosure process.
The wise buyer will point out to the delinquent (and later defaulted) owner how he will be harmed by proceeding through the brief foreclosure process to the trustee's sale. At that point, the owner will lose his property, lose his equity, reduce his credit standing as a result of the recorded foreclosure and may have taxable income due the IRS for the amount of the debt reduction (elimination of the trust deed debt) resulting from the trustee's sale. Selling to an interested buyer at a discounted price may well be the most convenient solution for the troubled, delinquent owner.
The property owner becomes a defaulted owner when the trustee for the beneficiary records a Notice of Default. During the following three month plus three week periods, a Notice of Trustee's Sale also will be recorded and published in a local adjudicated newspaper once a week for three weeks just prior to the trustee's sale. Live-in buyers of the property of the defaulted owner may negotiate any reasonable purchase price and terms for the property with the defaulted owner. Investors who seek to purchase the primary residence of a defaulted owner of one to four units and who are not related to that owner must work with the equity seller under the restrictions of two California Civil Codes which can make such purchases more difficult. These restrictions require the use of a special contract with a Notice of Cancellation, permit the equity seller to pursue the equity purchaser for unconscionable advantage for two years after the sale, and eliminate the use of outside assistance in the pursuit of a foreclosure property. Investors who unwittingly or intentionally become foreclosure consultants to equity sellers may also place themselves in jeopardy under certain conditions.
Most purchasers of foreclosures prefer to acquire their properties at the trustee's sale. At this time, it is possible to make property purchases without being in contact with the defaulted owner or foreclosing lender. Money talks. Anyone with money may make a purchase regardless of credit, race, religion, etc. The verbal auction permits the highest bidder to acquire a property by paying off only the remaining balance on the foreclosing loan regardless of the fair market value of the property. Debt recorded after the date of recording of the foreclosing loan is eliminated. Problems of unanticipated repair, eviction, payoff of superior loan(s), possible IRS redemption and inadequate research can present formidable obstacles to the inexperienced buyer.
When a trustee's sale is held with no bidder present, the property is said to be "sold" to the foreclosing lender. The REO lender usually will sell the property rather than retain the property as part of the lender's nonperforming assets. Finding that lender who will well the property newly acquired at the trustee's sale at a substantial discount is not easy although it is possible through a careful selection of lender sources of such properties. Individuals (not lending institutions) normally present better opportunities to purchase at a discount.
Friendly Junior Note
The fifth way to buy foreclosures is just a bit more complex but is an attractive way to acquire properties with less competition than purchasing at the trustee's sale. If the holder of the junior loan to the foreclosing loan agrees to sell his promissory note and trust deed at a substantial discount, the purchaser of the junior loan may cure the underlying senior loans and then foreclose himself on the newly acquired junior loan. The sale of the property through the junior loan can bring immediate return on the face value of the junior loan of the acquisition of the property with attractive equity.
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