Buying Houses: Types of Bargains to Find

To make a good profit in real estate, you must buy right. Check out all property types available to find the best transaction for your specific situation. Consider fixers, distressed sales, repossessions, multiple listings, for sale by owners, and vacant properties just wasting away.

Distressed Properties

Recognize the difference between a fixer and a distressed property. Distressed properties may be fixers or just unwanted houses. Divorce, job loss or transfer, death, financial difficulty, and other problems often force a sale for less than market value. Just because an owner’s problem causes a distressed sale does not mean the house requires fixing.

REPOSSESSIONS

Although the repossession market seemed dried up last summer, houses are beginning to appear on foreclosed lists again. Lender Rob Kramarz with Nationwide Mortgage (www.seetloan.com) says that this may be the beginning of another real estate investor boom.

Look for great bargain properties for sale by HUD, VA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and Bank-REOs (acronym for real estate owned). Real estate agents try to discourage you from repos and switch you to multiple listed homes. Do not listen to negative remarks about how hard it is to find a good deal property. Find another agent. Even in the hot market at the time of this writing, when the average house sells in less than three weeks, we found two properties for at least forty thousand dollars under market value.

Paying a listing service to mail you lists of repossessed properties is a waste of money. Actually, by the time you get these lists, the houses are already sold. Many web sites listing foreclosures thrive on the web for no charge to you.

Take a flashlight with you to view a repossessed property. With no electrical service and boards covering windows, viewing dark rooms is tough. A good real estate agent will have her own flashlight, but you want to see what you want and not what she wants you to see.

HUD

In our area, new HUD listings post online late Thursday night or Friday morning. New “Daily’s,” homes previously sold which fell out of escrow, post Saturday morning. Properties not sold during the bid time stay listed as daily’s. Bids, due by the following Tuesday at midnight, must be submitted by a real estate agent who has completed HUD registration. Don’t waste your time using a Realtor who is not familiar with selling HUD homes. Any mistake causes the bid to be rejected. Don’t use an agent who says you must bid way over minimum bid. Find an agent specializing in HUD homes who wants to work with you on your terms. Many bargain HUD homes do sell for far more than the minimum bid. Hold out for the one property which doesn’t get way overbid. (I bid about $40,000 under minimum on our second home owner-occupant mountain cabin.)

We submit many bids and win enough to make it pay us well. HUD only allows one repo purchase as an owner-occupant every two years from the date of closing.

Rely on your gut instinct and don’t let your real estate agent unduly influence you. It is not a difficult process for your agent to make a computer bid. You need an agent willing to make a few bids to get a successful bid. This is like winning a lottery, with the odds in your favor.

Bids must have a lender’s loan commitment statement. Lenders unfamiliar with HUD requirements also waste your time. Any mistake causes you to lose the purchase. Not all lenders understand HUD’s bid, finance, and purchase process.

When placing a HUD bid, raise your offering bid to cover some of your closing costs. This means you get HUD to pay your closing costs and save out-of-pocket expenses. Also, the higher sales price impacts the market comparable sales in your favor for sale later. Your purchase price influences the values of the market area. Keeping prices higher for active sales during your renovation time protects your investment potential.

Don’t get attached to one particular property. We placed a bid on a home I loved in Apple Valley and lost it by a few hundred dollars. The house came back on the list later, not at all uncommon for HUD repos. But, by this time, we had already purchased a better distressed property.

VA

Cleaner than HUD repos, homes owned by the Veterans Administration are also offered on a bidding system through real estate agents. The VA partially fixes up their repossessed homes. The VA sometimes offers vendee (seller) financing with few processing costs, low interest, and no prepayment penalty. You do not have to be a Veteran to buy these easy to qualify for homes.

Real Estate Investing: How to Choose a Lender

To become a successful real estate investor it’s vital to have a long-term relationship with a good lender. Having a flexible lender who knows your needs and objectives can be the difference between success and failure in your investment career.

Choose several lenders to begin with, and then interview all of them. Ask friends, other investors, and realtors for referrals. Call all of your potential candidates in the same week, so you’ll have identical criteria for comparing their rates, fees, and programs.

Instead of trying to fit into a lender’s program, interview your lenders by finding out how they can accommodate your needs. Here are a few questions to ask:

1. What are their requirements for middle credit scores and income?

2. What are their standard loan costs? These include things like points, processing, underwriting, documentation preparation, filing, and credit report fees. Can you add these fees to the loan amount?

3. Is there a required holding period before you can resell the property? Are there prepayment penalties when you flip your investment properties?

4. Do they require mortgage insurance? If so, what is the minimum percentage you’ll need to put down in order to avoid having to purchase that insurance?

5. How much can you finance, and can you finance fixer houses? How much down payment would be required on such houses?

6. Can sellers help with the loan costs, and to what extent?

After you’ve interviewed your potential candidates, make your choice according to the programs that fit your needs, as well as from the feeling you get from that person. Do they seem as if they’ll be easy to work with from a personal standpoint? Since you’re hoping to use that lender again and again, it’s important that you feel comfortable with them as a person as well as a source of financing.

A good lender wants your repeat business and works hard to find the right loan for each transaction. They may even be able to help you locate potential investment properties. Finding a great lender is a crucial component for your ultimate success as a real estate investor, so choose carefully.