8 Common Questions About Buying A Foreclosed Home

If done right, a foreclosed home can be a wise real estate investment that can provide you with an excellent rate of return.  But, for you to navigate all of the do’s and don’ts of the foreclosure market, it’s essential to fully understand all of the aspects and procedures of buying one of these distressed homes. 

Is it a good investment? Can I get a mortgage on a foreclosed home?  What are the risks?  These are all crucial questions, particularly the one about the risks; this one and many others I will answer below.

Use our RE/MAX Vernon Salt Fowler step by step approach to help you understand the exciting and often rewarding experience of purchasing a bank-owned property. With your new-found knowledge, you will be better prepared to start investing in a well planned, high rate achieving venture.

#1. Can I get a mortgage on a foreclosed home?

Yes, you can. In most cases, purchasing a foreclosed home is an investment rather than a first home, so chances are you already have a pre-existing mortgage. If you don’t, we will help you through the process of getting a mortgage so you can start searching for your first investment property.

Before getting into the foreclosure market, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself:

  • Can you afford it?

  • What is the maximum amount that you are willing to offer the court for your foreclosure sale?  Remember to calculate all the extra expenses – renovations, repairs, maintenance!

  • How can I find the lowest mortgage rate possible? The difference between a few percentage points will save you a great deal over the years.

Shopping For A Mortgage 

  • Shop around at all banks and credit unions to see what their lowest mortgage rates are.

  • Explore a variety of options such as 3, 5 and even 10-year terms and how each of these terms will best serve your needs.

  • Call and talk to a variety of mortgage brokers that are familiar with the foreclosure process and see what rates they are willing to offer.

  • Include your Realtor so that they can provide their expertise and advice.

  • Inquire about fixed vs. floating rates and how each can save you money on your foreclosure sale.

Once you have found the best mortgage rate and have been pre-approved, you are now ready to enter the exciting and rewarding world of foreclosure homes.

#2. Buying a foreclosed home at an auction – How does it work?

Now that you have been pre-approved for your mortgage, it is time to get serious about finding that perfect foreclosure sale. Before you can begin purchasing a foreclosed home, you must find the perfect home for your needs first, and this is where your real estate agent can help. Let me give you a head start and a great piece of advice to speed up this search – email. That’s right – a simple email list! And here’s the best part, it’s free!

By signing up for the custom software program via email, we can link you up with many different foreclosure options and can tailor these options to suit your individual needs. There is no obligation, nor is there any cost associated with this service. The email program will provide you with insider information that will give you a distinct advantage in the distressed home market.

If you are looking for that one tool that will give you an upper hand in the foreclosure sale market, then make sure to sign up below for this free service today.  Sign up Here:

Instant Access to Foreclosures:

Once you have found that perfect foreclosure home – follow these next steps to financial freedom:

  • Write an offer – You and your Realtor have done the market research and have arrived at a price. I recommend that this offer is not too low as the bank may reject it, then it is a waste of time for all parties.  Having a professional and experienced realtor is extremely important during this stage.

Remember that every foreclosure sale is an “as is” sale, meaning: what you see on completion date is what you get. All of this information will be presented to you in a Schedule A form, make sure to go over it and understand it with your Realtor!

  • Make that offer subject to court approval – The court, as well as the bank, must accept your offer. 

  • A court date will be set.

  • Your offer price is released to the public – Therefore it is important not to make your offer too low as making your initial offering price public invites competition.

  • The arrival of a court date – all offers will be presented to the judge and the highest offer is usually the one that is accepted.

  • Once the highest offer has been accepted, a court order is drafted and the successful candidate will take possession of their foreclosure sale at an agreed-upon date.

For an even more detailed description of each of these steps and how you can use this information to gain a distinct advantage in the foreclosure market check this out.

3. What is the risk of buying a foreclosed home?

Just like any type of real estate investment, buying a foreclosed home does come with a certain amount of risk.  Being educated about the most common mistakes that buyers make when purchasing a distressed home will help you navigate the sometimes tricky world of foreclosure sales.

Follow these insider tips and gain knowledge-they will give you an advantage and make your next foreclosure home a great revenue-generating real estate investment!

These important tips include:

  • Don’t offer too low of a starting price.  If you offer too low a price you will be rejected before ever getting to the auction stage of the foreclosure process.  To avoid this common mistake, work hard with your Realtor to offer a realistic initial amount.

  • Never assume that your offer will be the only offer.  You may need to adjust your original price if you want to pursue that bank-owned property.

  • Be prepared to lose in court.  You may be outbid and end up losing your foreclosure sale.  Remember, this is all just part of the game and you cannot take this personally.

  • Be prepared for some of the major risks.  These include not receiving the home in the same condition as when you first viewed it.  This is a distinct possibility that you must be prepared for.  Another risk is that tenants still occupy the property when you take possession and may have to be forcibly removed.

These are just some of the many risks that can arise when you buy a foreclosed home.  For a more in-depth look at these and other risks and how you can apply this information to avoid many of these common mistakes, be sure to read my insider tips.

4. When can I buy a house after foreclosure?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get. The answer is:

As soon as the foreclosed home goes on the market, you can buy it!

The previously discussed automated email list is the most efficient way to see the new foreclosures that are available on the market.  So, sign up today! 

Moreover, your Realtor will be hard at work checking the daily listings, so that you can be the first person to view these properties and their potential for revenue. 

When purchasing a distressed home, you can make an offer at any stage of the foreclosure process.  I highly recommend that you wait until the previous owners have moved out.  This way, you can avoid incurring any more costs associated with damages that may occur to the property. 

Always remember:

Foreclosure sales are final sales and are in “as is” condition!

Another important factor to consider when it comes to the timing of purchasing a distressed house is:

The longer a foreclosure sits on the market, the less money the bank is willing to take for that specific property, so sometimes patience is the key to saving large sums of money!  Depending on the circumstances, the general rule is that the asking price will be adjusted once every 30 days to help generate interest in the property.

We suggest you work closely with your Realtor to help you gain an understanding of your local foreclosure market and when the best time is for you to invest in this market. 

Now is the Time!

Take advantage of the ultra-low mortgage rates, the red-hot rental market and get involved!

5. What should I look for when buying a foreclosed home?

Buying a foreclosed home is a sound real estate investment and a great way for you to generate revenue.  Although a distressed house comes at a discount, there are some factors that you will want to consider before investing.

These next few points are important and will save you both time and money:

Many foreclosed homes have sat vacant for months and in some cases even years.  This can lead to maintenance issues.  Before buying a foreclosed home, it is important that you get a home inspection so you understand the total cost of the maintenance that will be needed in your new investment.

A typical inspection will cost between $400-$500 dollars and will give you a report on:

  • The home’s structure – cracks in the foundation, condition of the roof.

  • Mechanical problems such as plumbing and electrical.

  • Condition of the main appliances as well as the hot water heater, gas leaks, furnace.

This is an important first step that will give you a far broader picture of the overall cost of your distressed home and whether it is a sound investment or a money pit that you should walk away from!

In addition to the maintenance costs that you are most likely to encounter with your foreclosure sale, make sure to seek out all the information you can about the history of the home.  This information will help give you a better understanding of the previous owners, any renovations that may have been done as well as any liens, zoning laws or bylaws that may be applicable to the property.

Don’t forget!

Neighbours can be a great source of information about the home’s history so make sure to talk to them.  Also, look at the overall neighbourhood and some of the other properties to see if this is the right investment for you! 

Keep reading because later in this post I will give you my final opinion as to whether buying a foreclosed home is a good investment or not.

6. What expenses will I have when buying a foreclosure home?

When it comes to buying a distressed home, it is important to understand all the costs that you will encounter on this investment journey.  Here is a list of some of the less obvious and even hidden costs that are associated with a foreclosure sale and tips on how I can help you reduce these costs!

Some good news:

A realtor is a must when it comes to buying a distressed home.  Their knowledge and advice will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls and mistakes that are so often made when purchasing a property.  The best part about your Realtor is that all of their services are free to you; the buyer.   The seller, in this case, the bank is responsible for all realtor fees.

Other fees that you as the buyer are not responsible for include any liens against the home, outstanding property taxes as well as strata fees.  These costs will be cleared off the title at the time of sale.

Unfortunately, you are still responsible for the property transfer tax, which is taxed at 1% on the first $200 000 and 2% on anything greater than $200 000 up to $2 000 000.  After $2 000 000, the property transfer tax is 3%. 

Remember, you as the buyer also agree to pay the outstanding portion of the mortgage of the home as well as all legal fees that are incurred during the process.

Other important costs to keep in mind:

  • Professional Cleaning.

  • Renovations – including plumbing and electrical issues as well as replacing or repairing appliances.

  • Changing the locks and re-keying your home.

  • Any costs or damages that may have occurred from the time you viewed the home to the day you take possession.

Essential tips to keep your costs as low as possible:

  • Typically, I recommend that no more than 10% of the total purchase price should be allotted for repairs and renovations.

  • Gently used appliances and materials will help you keep costs down for all major renovations.

  • Shop around and get free quotes to keep costs down.  A professional cleaning service should cost you roughly $250-$300 for the entire house.

  • Do as much labour as you can; this includes an initial cleaning, mowing the lawn and basic landscaping.

7. What are the differences in buying a foreclosure in Canada and in the USA?

In the U.S., the foreclosure process differs from state to state so it is a good idea to inquire with your Realtor about the foreclosure process of that state.

Other factors to consider if you are entering the foreclosure market in the U.S.:

  • Make sure to consider the exchange rate because all transactions are in U.S. dollars, but chances are your mortgage will be in Canadian dollars!

  • Each state has different taxes and rules around real estate investment – know and understand them!

In Canada, there are 2 different ways that foreclosed homes are processed. 

They are:

  • Judicial Sale where the lender must ask the court for permission to sell the property.  This is the foreclosure process that is used in British Columbia as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

  • The Power of Sale procedure allows the lender to sell the property without asking permission from the court.  This is the foreclosure practice in Ontario, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Regardless of the process, in both Canada and the U.S, you will deal with the bank instead of the homeowner for a final sale.  This is an important piece of information because banks are most often unwilling to budge on price or the condition of the sale!

8.  Is a foreclosed home a good investment?

A foreclosed home is a great real estate investment if you understand all of the costs associated with the project.  A general guideline is that you should never pay more than 70% of the property’s estimated market value.   

Here’s the deal:

  • Instead of looking for cheap homes, you should look for good value in a foreclosure sale because the property’s true value is the total of renovations as well as the initial purchase price.

 A foreclosure property is not a deal if:

  • Repairs + renovations + purchase price = more than or equal to property’s estimated market value!

The best part:

If you are in the market for a foreclosure home, the great news is that the Vernon rental market is in high demand with a low vacancy rate.  This low vacancy rate offers great returns on a rental property with many houses in the area renting for between $1500 and $2200 monthly.  This high rate of return with the need for rental properties ensures that your real estate investment is sure to generate revenue!

To take full advantage of the low mortgage rates as well as the ultra-competitive and low vacancy rate, it is imperative that you act now.  I would love to help you find the perfect foreclosure sale and get you started on the journey of turning that distressed home into a revenue-generating investment!  Act now, it is the right time and the right investment!

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