Often, the preforeclosure period is the best time to purchase a property. The process begins when a lender first notifies a borrower that his or her loan payments are behind. If a borrower has no other means to bring the payments up to date, he or she is far better served to sell the property as soon as possible before it falls into foreclosure.
First Steps to Buying a Preforeclosure
Preforeclosure status means the owner of the property has defaulted on his mortgage obligation and the lender is taking steps to foreclose on the loan and take possession of the property. This situation places the property owner and the lender in a disadvantaged position. But it may not be too late for the property owner to work things out with his lender. At the same time the lender may be interested in allowing a short sale (sale of the property for less than the amount owed) just to avoid the costly process of foreclosure on the loan, and then the expense of marketing the property. That leaves open the opportunity for a real estate investor to come in and solve the problem for both parties.
Steps as you search for your pre-foreclosure property:
Contact the current owner of the property to discuss the terms that might be acceptable. If the property is already listed with a Realtor, contact that broker to get specifics as to the asking price of the property, its condition, and the willingness of the seller or lender to negotiate a short sale.
Schedule a visit to the property so you can see for yourself what condition it is in. Drive around the area to make certain it is a community that is right for you. (Please keep in mind that the owner may still be living in the property and their privacy should be respected).
Have a qualified appraiser or real estate professional supply a valuation. Money spent on a real estate appraisal in such circumstances is money well spent.
Have an attorney or title company search the title to the property noting any other liens, restrictions, or encumbrances that may exist.
Have your financing lined up so that you know you will be in a position to close when settlement time arrives.
Present an offer to the seller. If your offer is less than the amount of the debt on the property, ask the owner to present your offer to his lender.
Property owners and lenders are both in awkward positions when a loan goes into default. The property owner would like to avoid the foreclosure as it will have very negative consequences for his credit, and can severely limit his chances to obtain credit for a long time into the future. The lender knows it will probably be taking a loss because, if the property was worth the debt on it, the owner probably would have already sold it to avoid the foreclosure. Short sales are very common in pre-foreclosure situations and this leaves the door open for opportunities for you as the lucky real estate investor.