With so many foreclosures in the marketplace, you are bound to purchase one. Thing about foreclosures is the process can be a little trying. There are a few reasons for this. First, you’re dealing with a bank, so timeliness is not always a priority on their part. You may not get a decision on your offer as quickly as you’d like. Sometimes, banks will set a date purchase agreements are due requesting the “highest and best” offers. This means they’re looking for multiple offers and in this instance, they may have originally priced the home lower than market to create this frenzy. It is what it is and if it’s a home you want, you have to play by their rules.
Another thing you can expect with a foreclosure is an “as-is” addendum. This means that you are buying the house without a seller’s disclosure and in most instances, the bank won’t fix anything if there are any issues with your inspection or appraisal. Oh, and speaking of inspections … just because it’s sold as-is does not mean you can’t get one or make your offer contingent on one. It’s still highly recommended. Let me give credit to some banks out there. Some WILL do repairs which can be beneficial to you. Also, just because it’s bank-owned doesn’t mean you can’t ask the bank to cover some or all of your costs. A good Realtor will be able to advise you on this aspect of your purchase agreement.
The reason a bank completes an as-is addendum, is they have no knowledge of the home. They’ve never lived there and I’d be shocked if anyone from the bank has even been to the house. So, if there was previous water damage, storm damage or anything that may negatively affect the home, they won’t know about it. Typically, there is no personal property offered in these deals. For instance, if the kitchen still has the appliances, they cannot guarantee they will be in the home when it transfers to you. If they happen to be there when you move in — woohoo — extra bonus!
When working with the banks on these foreclosures, you can expect, in most cases, that the bank will require you to close with a title company they have chosen. The bank will run all their transactions through this title company for ease and for familiarity. Typically, the bank will offer to pay your owner’s title policy. So you know, the bank may require you to close with their chosen company, though by law, you technically CAN choose your own company. I would highly recommend you get a solid recommendation from your agent or lender. Many title companies will adjust their fees to compete with the bank’s company. I deal with title companies all the time and I know who performs and who could use a little work. Those that can use a little work are not all bad. There may be delays in getting paperwork or closing scheduled, but it eventually gets done.
Sometimes, it doesn’t. Here’s what happened that should have never happened. A recent transaction I had didn’t close on it’s desired close date and then didn’t close a week later. It wasn’t the client’s fault. It wasn’t due to financing — package and funds were there. It wasn’t due to the Realtors not doing their job — they did all they could. It ALL had to do with the title company. This “title company” had no presence in MN. The people were slow to answer emails and rarely answered phones. They didn’t meet with clients, but sent a notary — very impersonal. Not only that, the title work was “outsourced” which made matters worse.
Needless to say, we needed some paperwork, which took a few weeks to get after persistent emails and calls. We needed the closing to be scheduled so we knew when to date the closing paperwork and the buyers knew when to be available — never was set. Since we finally had the necessary paperwork, the agents and client set a date; we sent the package and wired funds. It’s typical for the title company to provide a HUD to the lender for approval. The HUD is the itemization of the settlement charges. We spent the morning of the “rescheduled” closing date burning the phones up to the closer, as well as emailing. Nothing. Right after lunch, we requested the wire be sent back since there was no response or HUD. Low and behold … a response with a request to give them some time as they are working on the HUD. That was it, the last communication. I am not sure why an extra week wasn’t enough time. Come Monday we still didn’t have the wire back.
Seems pretty bad, huh? It is unacceptable to have such poor communication. In the 16 years I have originated loans, I have NEVER experienced such disregard to all the people involved. If you think the above is bad … the following is worse. The family moved from their apartment, had their lives in a truck, their kids hours away with family and no place to go expecting to close on the date set in the purchase agreement. So, that week the buyers had to pay to store their stuff and live in a hotel, with many days of frustration and uncertainty. Who wants to go through this? They didn’t deserve this. The day the funds were at the title company, we waited … and waited … and the return calls never happened nor did the HUD arrive. The buyers moved on and are now renting month to month. They had to, had to provide a home for their children and stop waiting for a closing that wasn’t happening. Why? Because a title company couldn’t get their ducks in a row, didn’t have the same customer-focus as the others involved and didn’t have the desire to make it happen.
How could this have been prevented? Bucking the system with the bank and choosing their own title company. Does this mean everything would have been rosy? Not necessarily, but it would have meant familiarity by those who matter — the buyers, agents and mortgage company. It would have meant the personal touch of having a person to talk to, someone to depend on and someone to sit across from who knows the programs and can explain the paperwork — not just a notary to stamp after each signature — which is how they planned to handle the signing. These people could have saved hundreds, not to mention all the time lost in work, on the phone and away from their children. How do they get that back? How can they be compensated for what they lost? They can’t and that is a shame.
Working with the right people doesn’t just mean your Realtor and loan officer. EVERYONE involved in the transaction needs to have the same goals in mind … YOUR goals in mind. This obviously includes the title company. As you can see, they can make or break a transaction — a preventable situation. I am hopeful that this family can get their lives back in order and I truly hope they can trust again to take that magical step of owning their first home. They actually gave the title company one more shot and … of course, they still didn’t close. I pray homeownership happens, as everyone deserves to own a home and more importantly, everyone deserves to be treated fairly, like they matter and be given the common courtesy of great communication.