Can you explain how foreclosure works. Can I really buy a home for $2,900????

Asked by Carol, 19607 Thu Feb 19, 2009

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Kathleen Rho…, , Reading, PA
Thu Feb 19, 2009
Carol, I am going to assume your foreclosure question is about the buying process and not the process a seller goes through with the lender before they loose their home. Foreclosure properties are listed on the MLS. That is the system Realtors have access to. The property is "ready" to sell at that point and a buyer knows that they are purchasing a home that has a clear title search (buyer pruchases title insurance along with all other tipical closing costs) and non of the previous owners debts against the home will come back to get the new owner. Foreclosure homes can be purchased at good discounts, but are not given away. The bank will accept a certain percentage of what is owed on the home as full payment in order to get the property off their books.

Your second question, I believe, would better cover a "tax sale" or Sheriff's sale". This is dangerous water for most buyers that are looking for a bargain. Many of these homes are bought sight unseen. Most buyers don't have the time and expertise or the money to pay someone to go to the court house and search the records for the history (outstanding debt, liens, etc.) on the properties they are interested in bidding on. I'll give you an example. If you were the successful bidder on a home that was valued at $100,000.00 and you got it for the taxes owed of $2,900, you'd be jumping up and down for joy, wouldn't you? Not really. Because, you've just bought a home with all it's outstanding debt. You could owe the outstanding amount on several lines of credit that the previous owner took out against the home, or have mechanics leins, etc. This amount could total anywhere from a few thousand dollars to more then the home is actually worth. You've just bought the previous owners debt load and the reason they got behind in their taxes and lost the home.

If you'd like even more information about these two subjects, feel free to contact me.

Kathleen Rhode
Century 21 Advance
610-779-6585 x8455
2 votes
Terrence Cha…, Home Owner, Allentown, PA
Thu Feb 19, 2009
Websites, such as or RealtyTrac or this one, try to get you to pay for their services. Actual addresses are not published. As much as they try to be punctual with the timing of posting foreclosed homes, they are usually way too early or too late.

The foreclosure process is quite lengthy and starts when the borrower defaults on the loan. The following steps are included but are probably not all of the steps in the process after the borrower defaults.

- The lender petitions the court to sell the property.
- Borrower notified, has chance to catch up on payments, fees, remaining balance of loan.
- Borrower can't pay, home is slated for sheriff sale.
- Borrower can petition the court to stay the sale.
- If the sale goes on, potential buyers bid for property.
- If the property is sold at sale, sheriff evicts squatters (prior borrowers).
- If the property is not sold, the bank “buys” the property back.
- Bank puts the property on the market through a broker.
- For lenders who have VA or FHA backed home loans, they give the property to those agencies recovering the funds and those agencies either list with a broker or post those properties on their own web sites.

Now, even before this happens, the borrower sometimes lists the property (with the lender's approval) as a short sale (the price of the home is less than what is owed).

Moral: Get a real estate agent to help you out. They can show you properties which are either in foreclosure or will be a short sale. They can also assist you with properties which are slated for sheriff sale to see if they would be profitable.

Hope that helps,

Terrence Charest
1 vote
Eileen Musser…, Home Owner, York, PA
Thu Feb 19, 2009
Short answer-NO
Longer answer - Read Kathleen's answer. She's done a good job of explaining in few words.
Additional note - time to find a live, licensed, and patient Realtor and sign up
Post Script - stop reading misleading sites that tell you that the estimated sale price of a home is 1/100 of the value
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