The state of the real estate industry, both locally and nationally, over the past decade or more has resulted in a large number of distressed properties hitting the market. A distressed property is one that has fallen into mortgage default, a scenario that may present a prime opportunity for an investor or anyone looking to snag a great house at a below-market price.
There are currently 711,514 properties in U.S. that are in some stage of foreclosure (default, auction, or bank-owned), according to RealtyTrac, a real estate information company and online marketplace for foreclosed and defaulted properties. In April, the number of properties that received a foreclosure filing in U.S. was 7% lower than the previous month and 23% lower than the same time last year, so the opportunities to get a rock-bottom deal, while still plentiful, are decreasing.
Saving money is the primary motivating factor for those looking into buying a distressed property. In March, the median sales price of a foreclosure home was $132,100, or 39% lower than non-distressed home sales, according to RealtyTrac.
There are two main types of distressed property situations, and each has a special process for prospective buyers. In a short sale, the lender and borrower agree to a deal in which the property may be sold for less that what is owed, arranged as a pre-foreclosure measure. A foreclosure happens when the borrower is not able to remedy a default on his or her mortgage and the entity that holds the mortgage, usually a bank, has taken ownership of the property with plans to sell and recoup what remains on the loan.
Either of these deals is possible to find in the Wilmington NC real estate market, but before you dive in such opportunities, it’s best to know a little more about what could be in store for you. In fact, you may want to consider finding an agent who has a Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification, or SFR®, from the National Association of REALTORS®. These agents can use their expertise to help you limit your risk and otherwise protect prospective buyers from the potential pitfalls of distressed properties.
Length of time
Are you willing and able to put in time and possible disappointment in exchange for the possibility of getting a great deal? If not, then you may want to steer clear of short sales and opt instead for foreclosures, which will go much quicker due to the motivated and unemotional nature of the selling bank. In a short sale transaction, a buyer may have a long wait, often for many months, while the seller’s lender decides whether or not it will accept a short payoff and the owner deals with possible mixed emotions about leaving the home, with no assurance of results. Also, with a short sale you are dealing with multiple parties – the distressed owner and one or more banks, depending on how many loans there were – so things can get very complex and frustrating. A foreclosure requires that you only deal with one party, the lender selling the home.
Condition of property
The good news about a short sale is that you may have the opportunity to view the property during the process. This isn’t always the case with a foreclosure, when you may not be able to walk through or have it inspected by a professional before buying, especially if the purchase is through an auction. Decide whether you are comfortable spending money on something sight unseen and as is, even if you are getting a steal of a deal. Some foreclosures may be left in poor condition when the previous owners were forced to vacate or from long periods of vacancy and neglect, so that’s another thing to consider when determining if it’s worth the risk. Short sales are still occupied and are likely to be in better shape.
With a foreclosed property, the bank is responsible for providing a free and clear title upon closing, so the buyer doesn’t have to worry about paying off liens or incurring any seller-related expenses. Also, the terms of the offer will stay fixed throughout the closing process. All of these factors could be variable in a short sale, so you may have more headaches as things progress.
Are you ready to explore the possibility of buying a foreclosure or short sale? When you want to find out more about the process of acquiring a distressed property, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.