While foreclosures are plentiful, making up a huge chunk of the real estate market, the way that you buy them is not a whole lot different than the way that you purchase any other property.
Seeing the Inside of a Foreclosure
First of all, seeing foreclosures is easier than any other house. They are always vacant, generally they have been cleaned out of debris (although not always), and they usually have a lock box These lock boxes have combinations of either numbers or letters, which when set properly will release a key
There are three condo's in a building on the North shore that I have been trying to show for some time to my customer. And we just can't coordinate it. Friday we showed up, and the homeowner wasn't there. One homeowner says only after 4, and one says only before 2, and the third says wait until next Monday. Oy vey.
Foreclosures are Sold “As Is”
When you buy a foreclosure, the banks make no representations, other than good and clean title,. They don’t represent the roof is free from leaks, nor that the plumbing, heating, and electrical systems are working.
Sometimes, you can’t check things because the water has been shut off, and there is no electric on. But you can still see roof and basement leaks, and other structural items. They will allow you to bring in an engineer to make an inspection/evaluation, even after they have accepted your offer. A decent engineer can pretty much tell you the condition of everything, even without electric, gas or water. You know that the bank gave a mortgage to someone and at that time, these things worked. There aren’t that many moving parts in a furnace. You can still follow the path of damage to a unit. You know when the pipes broke, what the damage was. Leaks leave stains and odors.
Speaking of engineers and home inspections, Bill Coull, who was the first person on Staten Island to specifically do home inspections and reports died this week of cancer. I have to wonder how many people bought houses on Staten Island only after Bill said they were okay first. I knew Bill for 30 years, and I never heard a single negative thing ever said about him, or by him. He was a good guy, a good engineer/home inspector, and will surely be missed.
Making an Offer
In order to make an offer, you have to submit, in writing with proof, how you will pay for the property if your offer is accepted. If it is an offer of all cash, you must show proof that you have the cash (bank statements). If you plan on putting down a certain percentage, and getting a mortgage for the balance, then you must substantiate the cash part, and submit a “pre qual”, a letter from a lending institution that states that you have been “pre-qualified” for a loan in the amount of at least what you have put into your offer.
Now some banks/asset managers require that the Pre Qual be case specific- that it specifically mentions the property that you are making the offer on. Not a problem, as most mortgage brokers/bankers want your business and would gladly accommodate you with as many letters as you want. It’s easy since its all word processing anyway.
Some selling banks require that you get the “Pre Qual:” from them, regardless of whether you have a pre qual or not from another lender, they want you to go through them. (They want this to make sure that they aren’t wasting their time - or - to try to sell you a loan?)
Still other banks will make the financing attractive to purchasers of their inventory. Lenders like Wells Fargo, Countywide, Chase, etc. They have bitten the bullet, and decided to make the best of their situation by turning the non-performing loan into a new performing loan. These banks are in the loan business.
Finally, there are situations where there have been undocumented alterations which may render the property un-mortgageable in the conventional market. Often times in these cases the bank will offer the financing.
I had a customer who wanted a certain house, but there was an alteration that needed to be filed, so he couldn't get the 3% down below market first time homebuyer FHA deal he wanted, so he didn't buy the property, even though Wells Fargo agreed to loan 90%.
As you know from my prior emails, no one is quite sure who owns many of the loans that are merely “toxic assets”, Mortgage Based Securities’, that were the cause of the crash of the subprime mortgage industry, and the fall of wall street, etc. These mortgages were bundled in packages and sold to investors, and have ownership like Deutche Bank as trustee of series of bonds #200-212, of 2007, etc.). In these cases, there is no bank to offer financing, and the servicing company is not in the business of making new loans.
(If you are new to Lasher’s List, or just want to re-read some of my past articles including the explanation of the crash, why there are so many foreclosures on Staten Island, the role of organized crime, and all the rest., they are all posted at my blog, at http://lasherslist.blogspot.com/)
When you make an offer to buy a foreclosure, the bank generally responds in one of three ways:
1. If your offer is full asking price, all cash, and close in 30 days, they might say yes.
2. If your offer is for less, and your terms are reasonable and your financing checks out, they probably will counter at “give us your highest and best offer”
3. If your offer is too low, and the servicing agent is not having a good day, then they will not respond at all.
Even if your offer was not responded to, they do not take it personally, you can then make a new higher offer, and again one of the three above will occur.
Some banks respond quicker than others.
Sometimes a property hits the market that is in a desirable location, and lots of people see it and make offers. Sometimes the bank will tell everyone to come back with their highest and best offer, and take the best deal in their eyes.
We don't really know how they see the offers in their eyes - You would think that a stronger buyer all cash would beat out a 3% down deal for more money, but it doesn't. Sometimes higher price wins, sometimes all cash quick closing gets it. Probably depends upon the history of the particular property, how many times they've sold it, but the buyer wasn't able to get financing after a long drawn out process.
Those of you that receive all of my emails receive these BOM's which I identify as outstanding opportunities. If you do not receive all of my emails and would like to, just send me an email and I will move you to the appropriate list. (Some people only get occasional listings, but all of my news type emails and my pontifications).
Your offer is accepted/Contract signing
Now that your offer has been accepted, a contract is sent out to your lawyer, or some banks require the customer to sign an 8-18 page agreement that you are not able to make any changes to. Sign it, or you don’t get the house. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the addendum/agreement or the regular contract of sale by and between the lawyers. Sign it without making any changes, or you don’t get the house. This is just the way that it is.
One of my clients who is a well known substantial builder on Staten Island asked that the contract of sale be put into his building corporation, instead of his personal name. the bank said no, and put the property back on the market, while we prepared a new offer, for the same amount, same terms, in the name of the building corporation, and had to get a separate letter from the bank showing the funds in the name of the building corporation.
Some of the lawyers for the lenders are requiring certified funds or bank checks for the down payments. It used to be that the contract down payment clause said “subject to collection”
I think that it has to do with the fact that the bank is taking a hit, and it's a kind of like their way of getting some sort of Montezuma's revenge.
No biggie, small price to pay for the bargain that you are getting.
Financing a Foreclosure
Financing a foreclosure is no different from financing any other property.
If the buyer is going to occupy the house themselves as their primary residence, then all of the mortgages available for any other buyer is available for the foreclosure, depending upon the condition of the house. In order to get a 96.5% FHA or SONYMA, the house has to be in good shape, with everything working. But regardless of the percentage down, the house is going to have to appraise, and you still only can borrow the percentage in the particular mortgage you apply for (The loan to value of the property).
If the house is a wreck, then foreclosure or resale, the same financing is available generally. The difference is the conditions to obtain financing that the seller allows you. But if the house is a fixer upper with things not working, so that the house doesn’t qualify for FANYMA etc., then you have to go to a commercial lender to get the financing, although there are mortgage programs out there for fixer uppers- but generally calling for you to get architectural plans permits and approvals first.
My associate Don Adler and I just sold the Landmarked 1869 Bedell house in Tottenville to a young lawyer on Lasher’s List, Thomas Kocian and his wife. They plan on restoring it for their primary residence and an office for Tommy’s law practice. This house had gotten a lot of notoriety because the prior owner had painted the outside precipitating the Landmarks Preservation Commission to jump in and landmark the house. The house is/was a wreck. The selling bank required that the “prequal” acknowledge that the house was a Designated Landmark, that it could not be torn down, and that it was in a deplorable condition in order to make an offer. Kocian had a prequal from an international well known bank that he had been doing business with for years, but they refused to issue the specific prequal, as did several other lenders that Kocian tried. Victory State Bank stepped up to the plate, and made the deal happen. Victory loaned the money for the acquisition, and gave a commitment for the rehabilitation, and after the work is completed they will refinance. If you need financing, go see Richie Boyle, head of the Loan Department @ Victory State Bank 718-979-2000. (Tell him I sent you)
Sometimes the seller bank will not give you a mortgage contingency on a property, so what you have to do is either get a loan on your own home, or other property, or go to a commercial lender like Victory that will give financing on your own home as well as the foreclosure being purchased.
But regardless of what you do, it all boils down to Loan to Value (LTV). What percentage is the bank lending of the total purchase?
The contracts of sale now have provisions that all of the funds have to be sent to the attorney for the lender and then they will send out the deed. In other words, at the closing the only ones there may be you and your attorney at the lenders office, unless you go to the Sellers lawyers’ office. Closings that are done via wire and fed ex, are similar to how closings are done in other parts of the country.
Another difference with a foreclosure closing and a regular closing is that the buyer usually pays the Real Property Transfer Tax (NYC 1%), and the NYS Transfer Tax .4%, in addition to all other expenses. Normally the seller pays these items. Now because the buyer is paying these items, they pay the tax on the tax too. (1.4% of the purchase price, and 1.4% of the tax- don’t ask me why, makes no sense to me, other than an opportunity for the taxing authorities to make an extra couple of bucks).
Is this negotiable- NO. It is written in Stone.
What is the rationale? When the bank foreclosed on the property, they received a deed from the referee appointed for the foreclosure. In order to record the deed, they had to pay the transfer tax (1% and .4%). Since they just paid it, they don’t want to pay it again, and since they can get away with it, they do. It is called Sour Grapes.
………to be continued