Short Sale vs Auction

“What are the differences between short sales and auction properties?”

When a homeowner falls behind in their mortgage payment and doesn’t catch up, refinance or sell the property, the home is going to become a foreclosure property.

So which is the best stage of the foreclosure process for an investor to buy the distressed property? Before the foreclosure auction, at the auction, or after the auction?

Pre-Foreclosures and Short-Sales

What is a Short Sale?

If you buy a home directly from the owner, but for an amount less than the mortgage owed, that’s a short-sale.  While it used to be common for creative investors to buy pre-foreclosures without paying off the mortgage (subject to deals, wrap mortgages, lease options, etc.), the lack of equity in the vast majority of today’s distressed homes makes those tactics MUCH less useful.  Instead, focus on getting the bank to take less than what is owed… a Short Sale.

Why a Short Sale?

Short sales are plentiful, and can be financially rewarding.  There is no shortage of underwater houses with desperate sellers.  A seller who can short sale his house STOPS the foreclosure process, protecting his credit and often eliminating any risk of a deficiency judgment.  So buying a short sale helps the seller, in a way that buying later in the process just can’t.  As an investor, you can find short sales at any price point, in any neighborhood, with a simple MLS search.

Making a Short Sale work

The major key is to work with a real estate agent experienced in short sale negotiations.   While most of the banks have streamlined their short sale approval process (especially in the past few months), the process still takes a long time and a great deal of patience. An agent who is actively involved in tracking and following your offer is invaluable.  You need an agent who anticipates the bank’s moves and knows how to successfully negotiate the playing field … especially since the bank is paying the commission.

What is needed?

Before a bank approves a short sale, the asset manager is going to require at least one BPO (Broker Professional Opinion) or CMA (Comparable Market Analysis), which is essentially a light appraisal based on comps in the area.  The bank also needs to see a variety of documents, (sometimes on their own forms) including:

  • A fully executed sales contract (with all signatures and initials)
  • An executed listing agreement (showing the property has been marketed)
  • A hardship letter from the seller (telling their story why a short sale is needed)
  • Seller’s bank statements, tax returns, W-2s, and payroll stubs
  • An Estimated HUD-1 (closing statement showing the net to the bank)

How to submit

Ten years ago, we would deliver short sale packages by FedEx because banks would always claim to lose the package or would accidentally shred the fax.  Now most banks have adopted online software to submit shortsales.  But some banks still prefer faxed documents.  You need to know before you submit.

Its always a good idea to submit your own CMA with the short sale package, to justify the sales price and help set the asset manager’s expectations.

ALWAYS submit an exhaustive list of all the repairs needed on the home, together with pictures and multiple bids for the repair estimates.  The more repairs, the lower the value, and the better the deal you can expect.

Getting the offer accepted

Remember that in most cases, nobody knows if a short sale offer will be accepted or rejected by the bank in advance.  A short sale listing simply means the seller and the listing agent HOPE the bank will take a reasonable short sale offer.  Banks turn down plenty of reasonable offers.  But most of the time, the bank rejects the short sale because:

  • Offer is too low (bank believes foreclosure will net more)
  • Short sale package is incomplete (or the bank “lost” documents)
  • Seller does not qualify (too much income/asset shown)
  • Bank sold the loan (often months ago… even though they were negotiating with you)

Short sales compared to auction properties

Short sales are a LOT less risky than auction properties. With Short sales:

  • You get lots of time for inspections, surveys, appraisals, title insurance and closing.
  • You can lock up the property with a minimum down payment.
  • You have many opportunities to back out of the deal.
  • You get to negotiate the best possible price.

On the other hand,

  • Auctions often sell at a steeper discount than short sales.
  • You don’t need much patience with auction properties.

*BIG SECRET for successful short sale offers

Until a bank has actually accepted a short sale offer, there is no way of knowing whether they will let a house go for a particular price.  And a bank will not accept an offer (or even hint at the bottom line price) until a complete short sale package has been submitted and reviewed.  Until that acceptance, the list price is just to gauge interest from the public.

Want to increase your short sale success dramatically?  Look for “preapproved” short sales, where the bank already accepted an offer and the buyer walked.  Properties marketed this way are much easier and quicker to close.  The bank already knows what the BPO or CMA will show, and has already determined the amount of loss they are willing to write off.  They just need a new buyer…

**HUGE SECRET for auction buyers

I can’t tell you the number of foreclosures we have bought at the auction, only to find out that agents were putting the final touches on a short sale closing.  The bank was telling everybody the short sale was approved and ready to close… but the bank didn’t tell their attorney to cancel the foreclosure sale

The interesting thing was that we bought these houses at the auction for significantly less than the bank would have made through a short sale.  The bank discounted MORE at the foreclosure auction than they would have had to discount the mortgage.  Once, we flipped the house the day we got title… to the short sale buyer…. for a huge profit.

So finally, we started submitting short sale offers on upcoming foreclosure auction properties, about a month ahead of time.  The banks would do the BPO, decide their bottom line number, and then… let it go to auction anyway.  But they would reliably discount the judgment and reduce their strike price at the sale.  And since we already knew the rehab and resale numbers, we could bid confidently at the sale.





Six Secrets to Buying REO Homes

Six Secrets for Buying an REO

Are you interested in buying a foreclosure house owned by the bank?

Lots of investors know they can find a great deal by buying an REO (Real Estate Owned) house.  REOs are the properties the bank didn’t discount enough to attract investors at the foreclosure sale, or which were taken without a foreclosure sale.

And while you might not get the same steal that you would at an auction, REOs have LOTS of advantages over buying at the foreclosure sale (most relating to reduced risk).

To find a great REO deal, you need to be savvy, and you need to understand exactly what the bank is looking for before you start submitting offers.

Here are the Six Secrets you need to know before making your offer on an REO.

1. Don’t lowball recent listings

Banks know newly listed properties haven’t been seen by enough potential buyers… so they will wait to see what offers come in over time.  The asset manager handling negotiations for the bank has already priced the property based on what they think the property is worth.  And each bank has its set of guidelines on how much of a price reduction they can stand at each stage of the process.  So don’t expect a response if you are not close to the asking price on brand new listings.

If you want to low-ball (anything more than 10% off asking price), search for listings that have been on the market for 90 days or more.  The asset manager has already had enough time to realize the property is not pulling in the expected offers… so the property must be overpriced.  And the bank discount guidelines will be more in your favor the longer they have owned the house.

2. Avoid “highest and best”

If you see a fantastic property at a way-too-good-to-be-true price, you can be sure the agent listed the house low to grab lots of attention and create multiple offers.  And you can be sure the agent will be sending an email saying “this is a multiple offer scenario and we need your highest and best offer by noon”.  That’s Agent-Speak for “please bid against yourself and send an offer higher than your last offer… even if you might already be the highest offer”.

This selling tactic gets people emotionally invested and generates bidding wars… often resulting in a price way higher than the listing price… and often even higher than the asking price of other comparable listed properties.

Don’t fall for it.  The key is to know what the property is worth and what you can afford.  The house still may be worth more than the list price…and may be a good deal over the list price… just don’t overbid.  Trust your numbers.

3.  Jump on a Bargain.

Do your research, know your market, drive your neighborhoods… and be ready to pounce the moment a house goes on the market.  You can be sure other investors will make offers within the first few days (if not hours) of a good deal hitting the market.  But if your offer gets there first, you might have a slight edge.  You might have your offer accepted while others are still trying to make up their mind.  Don’t be the one trying to make up your mind.

4.  Have Cash

Cash is king.  Transactions funded with cash close quicker and more reliably, so banks prefer the cash offer over the financed offer.  Loans take time and lenders require surveys, appraisals, inspections and title insurance… which cash investors can short circuit.  So banks will discount deeper for a cash offer. If you don’t have cash savings to buy an REO, find it.  Relatives or friends are your best source.  Retirement accounts, credit cards, equity line… whatever.  But if you don’t have cash, it is much harder to lock up a steal.

5.  Submit Clean Offers

When we submit REO offers, we ask to close in 10 days, all cash, no contingencies, no contributions, no loans, no excuses.

The asset manager knows exactly what they will net, and that nothing stands in the way of closing, once they sign the contract accepting our offer.

Clean offers are critical if you get caught in a “highest and best” situation, because you will beat out the financed, messy offer every time.

6.  Submit EVERYTHING up front

Every bank is going to want a written offer, proof of funds (for a cash offer) or loan approval (for a financed offer), and proof of the earnest money deposit.

Some banks need your agent to submit the offer through a proprietary online service.  Others will need certain forms filled out.

But EVERY bank has a comprehensive addendum… which is one long form that basically says “we don’t have to sell if we don’t want to… and you can’t do anything about it…. and oh by the way, we really know absolutely nothing about this house.”  You might as well sign this as early in the process as possible.

Make sure your real estate agent submits ALL the documents up front.  If YOU were the asset manager and you had to choose between an offer with all the documentation neatly attached or one without, which choice would you make?

Buying an REO is a great way to pick up an investment property or a new home.  Follow these Six Secrets, and you are well on your way to picking up your deal of the year.

So what other tips or techniques for buying REO homes can YOU share in the Comments below?


Proud to be a Vulture?

Have you ever wondered why people look down on flippers?

Foreclosure Flippers are called “scavengers” or “vultures” by others in real estate.

Flipping certainly isn’t the glamorous side of real estate.

But every ecosystem needs scavengers….Otherwise dead stuff starts to pile up.

With foreclosures, the alternative to a flipper buying the house is the bank taking it back:

  • Banks don’t spend time and money, so the house turns into an ugly, empty eyesore.
  • Banks unload houses at rock bottom prices, preventing the market from recovering.
  • Banks limit properties to occupants, preventing landlords or investors from buying.

The dead stuff needs to be cleaned up quickly.

Flippers fix a home fast, then sell or rent the house right away.  That cleans up neighborhoods, removes eyesores, and helps a market recover.

A world without scavengers would get ugly real quick.

So if someone calls you a vulture, does that offend you or make you proud?