In this market, short sales can sometimes be a good deal for a buyer but they also come with some potential pitfalls. A short sale is when a seller needs to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. In order to get a bargain and not a headache you will need to do your homework. Here are some tips for protecting yourself before buying a short sale.
1. Use experts
It is important that before you buy a short sale you assemble a team of experts. During the initial phase you will need help identifying which homes are being offered as short sales. The nature of short sales are different, you will also need help determining a purchase price and what to include in your offer.
A real estate attorney who is knowledgeable in short sales is also key. Navigating the process of a short sale can be tricky so you will need an experienced short sale attorney to help deal with the potential of multiple liens, mechanic’s and condominium liens, or homeowners association liens. Often homes that are in short sale have these issues and without help will be harder to purchase.
2. Prepare emotionally
If you want a good deal on a short sale you will probably have to be in it for the long haul. It is important to stay patient, and remain unemotional during what can sometimes be a lengthy and emotionally difficult process. You may even want to consider a title search upfront. This could weed out properties with multiple liens if you are under a time crunch.
3. Know the market
In order to successfully purchase a short sale you need to know the marketplace. When a lender agrees to a short sale, they are agreeing to losing money on the loan they made to purchase the home. A short sale can be a good deal but it usually not a steal. The lender also knows the fair market value of the home and wants to minimize their losses. If your offer is too low, you chance it being rejected. During the process we will determine a price range that works with your budget and is hopefully one that the lender will accept.
4. Know the Process
The short sale process is different than that of a standard sale. The agreement to sell the home for less than is owed is actually made between the seller and the lender, not the seller and the buyer. The seller must first gain approval from the lender before the sale can be finalized.
First, you would make an offer on a home and the sellers must consent to your offer to purchase. Then the sellers must submit the offer to their lender. The seller also sends along documentation to the bank as to why they need to sell the home for less than is owed. The seller should also have an attorney to help them with this process.
Lenders typically do not move quickly on this process. It can often take weeks or months to get an answer. This is why is often best to put a competitive offer first. If several lien holders are involved; each can make a counteroffer or just reject your offer.
5. Firm up your financing
Lenders don’t just look at the amount you are willing to pay for the home; they will also weigh your ability to close the transaction. If have a strong offer lenders will look more closely at your offer. You will want to make sure you are pre-approved for a mortgage for any consideration. Other factors that could influence the decision in a positive way are: having a large down payment, ability to close at any time, and flexibility. They will often not consider your offer if you have a contingency.