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Are you considering buying a foreclosure or bank-owned home? It can be tempting to look at foreclosed properties if you want a bargain, but are the lower prices really worth the potential problems? A different approach is needed when you are looking to buy a foreclosed house. Below are some tips and tricks to make the process smoother.

It's essential to know that these kinds of real estate transactions can be a bit riskier than your traditional purchase. Quite often, first-time homebuyers are under the impression that foreclosure properties are the bargain of the century. While at times there is a discount, don't expect it to be monumental. If only going from a renter to a homeowner translated into instant equity. Unfortunately, it rarely ever works that way.
Keep your eyes wide open and use these simple tips for buying a foreclosure:

Is It a Good Idea to Buy a Foreclosed Home?
A foreclosed property has been recovered by the lender when the owner was unable to keep up their mortgage payments. The lender wants to get as much of their money back, and they want to do it quickly. This leads to foreclosed homes coming on the market for less than the value they really offer.

For buyers, this can present an excellent opportunity to save thousands on the house. There are some downsides and potential pitfalls to purchasing a foreclosed property, and it won't be for everybody. If you're happy with the higher risks involved and can move quickly on a deal, this could be a way to get a decent discount on a home. Here's what you'll need to do to secure a foreclosure bargain:

Get the Right Real Estate Agent
It'll be helpful to get the services of a buyer's real estate agent who's knowledgeable about the foreclosure market. To find an excellent REALTOR®, check the online listings for foreclosed properties in your area. Look for agents with specialized qualifications, like the Certified Distressed Property Expert and the Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource training certificates.

Buyers will sometimes go directly to the seller's agent, which, frankly, isn't smart. The thinking for doing so most often is getting savings in commission. Keep in mind that the listing agent works for the seller. Their fiduciary duty in every way is to the seller. Getting a discount in commission isn't beneficial if you make a terrible mistake or overpay for the property.

If you find a great agent, you can expect them to look out for properties that meet your needs. You have to be ready to do things quickly, however, as these listing don't usually remain on the market for long.

There are specific online search tools you can use to find foreclosure properties.

Have a Preapproved Mortgage
If you aren't able to pay cash for the property, you'll need to show a preapproval mortgage letter to prove that you're serious. It will show that you can close on the property quickly, being able to pay the amount offered.

Having a loan ready will mean that you can better compete with offers from real estate investors, which will normally be offering cash. Lenders will need the property appraised to find the value. You need to take this into account when making an offer so that the loan amount isn't below the offer you've made. If this happens, you may have to find the difference if the sellers won't reduce the price to match.

Comparative Market Analysis
It can be challenging to judge the right amount to offer for a foreclosed home. Analyzing the recent sales information can provide a better understanding of the bid you should offer to get the house. Your agent should be able to run this analysis for you. They should also be able to give you some idea about how quickly sales go through, which will inform you on how much you need to bid.

Your agent needs to realize when running comparable sales data to be comparing apples to apples. The condition will play a vital role in the value. The agent will need to have decent skills at estimating necessary improvements.

Bidding Higher
If you find that foreclosures are selling quickly in your area, you will need to bid more to make sure you're successful. Your agent should be able to help you create an offer that has a good chance of success. The foreclosure price may be discounted by the lender already, so putting in a low-ball offer may not be a reliable approach. In fact, you may find that bidding the asking price or slightly above is the best way to win the purchase. You may need to waive some of the contingencies which seem essential in a regular purchase. While it may seem crazy to do so, some buyers will waive a home inspection when buying foreclosure homes. As an agent who has been in the business for 33 years, I wouldn't recommend it, but it certainly happens.

The waiver of a financing contingency, even when you're not paying cash, is also a possibility. This will make sure the sale goes through faster, which is what the lender is looking for. If you decide this is the route you're going to take, make absolutely certain you'll have no problem getting the mortgage. Otherwise, you would be putting your earnest money at risk.

Condition of the Property
Often, a foreclosed property will be in a worse condition than you would expect from a typical house sale. The previous owner may not have cared much about the state of the property when they left it. Quite often, bank-owned properties are fixer-uppers that need quite a bit of work. The lender isn't going to be particularly interested in making any repairs, either.

You should have a home inspection done to make sure you fully understand the problems the property may have. As previously mentioned, not having one is foolhardy. Things may be uncovered that were unknown to the lender, and a better deal could be possible if that happens.

While lenders aren't going to care about routine maintenance items, if something significant pops up, like a non-functioning heating system, there may be some consideration.

Final Thoughts
Buying a foreclosed home is not for everyone. When purchasing this type of property, it is essential to make sure you do extra due diligence. It's not out of the realm of possibility there could be the next problem you weren't aware of lurking around the corner.

This was originally published on RISMedia's Housecall.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell Metrowest Massachusetts real estate for the past 33 years.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2020. All rights reserved.


During the winter, many homeowners are vigilant in keeping their driveways clear of snow and their front steps free from ice, but how much time do you spend thinking about your pipes?

"Frozen pipe issues are more than just a minor hassle," says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. "Damage caused by frozen pipes bursting can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, property damage and loss. Fortunately, most homeowners can avoid untimely expenses like this by being proactive instead of waiting on freezing lows to arrive."

Rose and the Four Seasons team list the following tips to prevent freezing pipes:

Survey the home's exterior – Small air leaks near pipes can cause them to freeze very quickly. Use caulk or insulation to seal any troublesome cracks.

Monitor indoor air temperatures – It's a great money-saving practice to lower the thermostat at night or during absences, but temperatures should never be set below 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.

Pack-up outdoor hoses – Stow away outdoor hoses in the winter months and make sure the indoor valve is completely shut off. Make sure hose bibs are completely drained before covering.

Let faucets drip – On nights where a below freezing temperature drop is in the forecast, be sure to let faucets drip with warm water. Even a trickle of water helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Open cabinets – Cabinet doors can prevent warm air from getting to pipes under kitchen and bathroom sinks. It's an important practice to leave them cracked so that the heat can circulate around the pipes.           

"Cold weather is troublesome enough on its own, and more so around the holidays," Rose says. "If you do happen to fall victim to a frozen pipe disaster, turn off the water at the main as soon as possible, then call a professional right away."


Each new year gives you the chance to reset and start new routines. When you're considering new approaches to healthy living - whether eliminating or adding habits to improve your daily life - beginning with your home is an optimal choice. Your living environment has a strong influence on your life, and it's worth evaluating how you can make updates that create a positive space for you and all that the new year will bring. Consider these ideas to refresh your home and simplify your house cleaning routine so you can spend more time focusing on your goals this year.  Start by Decluttering. It's practically impossible to get excited about a fresh start when you're surrounded by last year's junk. Make decluttering and purging unnecessary items a top priority for your refresh. Clear counters and tables to create more inviting surfaces and force yourself to assess which items are worth keeping. Get rid of items you don't need by donating, selling or disposing of them. Tackle piles of things you've carelessly tossed aside and find (or create) purposeful places for them to belong.  Simplify Your Laundry Routine. Whether it's the frustration of having no clean laundry or never-ending baskets filled with clothes that need folding, laundry is an area where nearly every home can use a refresh. Start with the basics to make laundry easy and quick. A streamlined laundry system starts with the right tools for the job, such as single-dose detergent pods that release while inside your machine, so you can simply toss one in and start the load. Create a Fitness Space. One way to stay committed to a new workout regimen is to create a place where you enjoy spending time. Even if you don't have a room to dedicate to fitness, you can make a fitness corner feel more intentional and less like an afterthought with some simple changes. If possible, locate your fitness area near a window so you can soak up the energy of natural light. Clear away unnecessary items and make room for the equipment or floor space you need. Add inspiring posters or make frames to hold your current workout guide. Add storage for hand weights, resistance bands and other small equipment to create your own home gym.  Reconfigure Your Furniture. A full-fledged renovation may not be in the cards (or budget), but you can give your living space a quick facelift by simply rearranging the furniture. Beyond simple aesthetic changes, think about how you can make better use of natural light and improve traffic patterns. You might also eliminate extra pieces if the space feels overcrowded or consider borrowing functional items that add storage or seating from other rooms in the house. Add Greenery. The middle of winter may not seem like an ideal time to hone your green thumb, but adding a few plants can make your home feel more inviting and chase away the cold weather blues. Plants can also help serve as a natural air purifying system; they absorb carbon dioxide to help stimulate their growth and are believed to absorb a host of other airborne pollutants. Published with permission from RISMedia.

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