Risk and Reward: the Trade-offs of Buying a Distressed Home

Foreclosure Many home buyers are interested in taking advantage of the lower prices offered on distressed homes.  Distressed homes are those that are short sales or foreclosures (REO) and in the Seattle area, the sales price of distressed homes were discounted about 37.4% in August over a "non-distressed" home.

Something to keep in mind before you buy a "discounted" distressed home is that these transactions are not as "easy" as a traditional, non-distressed sale.  For starters, you're most likely dealing with a bank (and/or one of their representatives) as one of the selling parties. As much as you would think they really want to sell the property to get it off their books, they can leave you wondering where their heads are at throughout the transaction.  

This may be especially true with a short-sale if there are two mortgages on the property.  Sometimes the second mortgage/lien holder will take their sweet time approving the transaction and just prior to closing, only to demand that "someone" pay them thousands of dollars to close.  By the way, this extortion money payment must be disclosed on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement or it's fraud.  Even if the first and second mortgage are with the same bank/lender, please do not assume they won't play games with you or each other…it happens.

Something else that I've recently seen happen with distressed property is vandalism…just days before closing, someone steals the appliances or even takes plants from the garden. Vandalism could happen to non-distressed home as well but since most of these properties are vacant, they seem to be getting targeted.

Tums These transactions tend to take longer to close and may have more drama. Be prepared to have your rate lock extended, perhaps a few times!  If you're patient and can keep in mind that you're probably getting a discounted price, the rewards may be worth it if you can tolerate the risk and all that goes with it.

In my experience, I've found that Fannie Mae Homepath properties have had the least amount of issues especially when you factor in the attractive financing programs that are available for owner occupied and investment property.  

If you're considering buying a short sale or foreclosed home anywhere in Washington state, I'm happy to help you with the financing.

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