Is your broker experienced with foreclosures? I ask because these transactions are vastly different than, say, a traditional RE transaction process. Generally speaking the banks don't care about the physical property, they only care about $$. They are already in a capital loss position because clearly the previous owner was unable to pay off their mortgage. This is why the banks sell the properties in "As is" condition because they don't care if the property sits there, get vandalized or termites, or if the pipes freeze. They won't discount based on these issues or give you a buck to pay for or fix any problems, or hold any warranties on the property. So, that is big warning #1. Warning #2 is the time it takes to get an answer on or fully purchase a foreclosed property. Referencing warning #1 that banks only care about the $ so they will let the property sit there for months with a low "listed" price of which they may not have any real intention of accepting ... Their hope is an informal auction that will keep increasing the price until they finally take the highest, like what happened in your case. If the bank sees a quick response to a listing price they will let the "auction" go on for weeks if they want trying to get the highest number. Unlike negotiating directly with a person (homeowner) who carries emotion and a strict time line, banks are big corporations with lots of layers. Unfortunately the banks will usually only respond to the the agency they have hired to market/sell the property because of the stacks and stacks of papers already on their desks - most have an automated system in place. Response time weighs heavily on organization of the bank and listing agent. That said, it is certainly worth your agent trying to contact the bank directly. Can't hurt. Warning #3 is usually banks require a specific lender pre-approval. Your agent should make sure that the bank who owns the property isn't requiring a specific pre-approval letter or proof of funds. If they are and you didn't provide it they may not respond to your offer. Warning # 4 is before you work hard to buy this foreclosure make sure the town you are buying in isn't flooded with foreclosures because those towns will take years to revitalize and stabilize property values. http://www.territoryre.com/blog/?p=597
Just remember when it comes to foreclosures $ talks.
I hope some of this was helpful and good luck!!
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Unfortunately, if you're working with buying the property directly from the bank, the process can take months and in the end, you may not even end up with the property.
MERS handles a huge number of loans in MA and facilitates the easy resale of loans between banks. For more info and stats on MERS, see the link below.