Stage Three: House Hunting
Insider Secret: “Distressed” doesn’t always equal “discounted” – in some cases, a “regular” sale can be a deeper deal.
Why: Short sales and foreclosures have grown to comprise roughly 30 percent of the homes sold on today’s market, even higher in some areas. The average sale price of foreclosed homes was 32% lower than the average sale price of non-foreclosed homes, at last count. However, it’s not always the case that foreclosed homes or short sales – homes which are being sold for less than what the seller owes on their mortgage(s) – offer the buyer a fabulous discount.
Mortgage servicers and asset managers who make decisions about distressed properties are on the hook to their investors to recoup as close as possible to the current fair market value of every home they sell. Some banks even have a general rule of rejecting offers more than 10 percent or so below the home’s list price, preferring instead to reduce the price by that amount and put the home back on the open market to see if any new buyers are activated by the price reduction to make an offer better than the lowball offer that was initially put on the table. On short sales, the bank is trying to get as close as possible to recovering what the seller owes – and may or may not be concerned with what the fair market value of the home is. (Nine times out of ten, there will be a big gap between fair market value and the seller’s outstanding mortgage balance. If there wasn’t, the seller wouldn’t need to do a short sale!)
With so many distressed properties and homes with depressed values on the market, in many areas, the individual, non-distressed home sellers who are putting their homes up for sale right now are those who are very motivated to sell. Further, they are more likely to be flexible with you on everything that is negotiable, from contingency and escrow periods, to price, to repairs and included items.
Also, individual sellers can be emotionally motivated to sell to move on with their lives, get into their bigger (or smaller) house, or move on to their next job; banks, on the other hand, aren’t people (!), so lack that emotional sense of urgency to get the properties sold, no matter how urgently you may think they should be trying to get rid of the foreclosed properties they own. (If you’ve heard the old advice that banks don’t want to be in the home-owning business, I can tell you this. That is true, in a very general sense, but now they are and will be – for a long time to come. They have no emotions, have no urgent need to sell or move, and are not willing to give houses away at pennies on the dollar to get out of it, no matter what those infomercial folks say.)
Long story short: you can sometimes negotiate a better deal with an individual seller on a “regular” sale than with a bank on a distressed home sale. So, don’t limit your house hunt to foreclosures and short sales, if you’re looking for a good deal on your home.
Look for Stage 4 in Tomorrow’s Blog