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So you want to Buy a Bank Owned Home in Southern NH? What you need to Know before You Begin.

Bank owned homes are currently a huge segment of the the real estate market in southern New Hampshire making up about 20% of the sales in the first quarter of 2009, according to Peter Francese of the New England Economic Partnership. So you've heard the stories splashed all across the media about how bank owned homes are being listed and sold below market value offering home buyers the potential to "steal" a home. Our experience it that there are tremendous opportunities for buyers purchasing bank owned properties but, and this is a big but, you need to know the rules of the game and be prepared for them in advance. This is where a knowledgeable real estate professional can be extremely helpful.

RULE # 1: BE PREPARED FOR PROPERTY CONDITION ISSUES. Many bank owned properties have serious condition issues. During the last bank downturn in the early 1990's the banks often spent a great deal of money renovating and preparing their REO property for the market. Today, because of the large numbers of homes in inventory and the convoluted issue of who owns the mortgage, properties are being sold strictly "as is." In a normal real estate transaction you receive a seller's representation of condition but with bank owned property you will receive no seller's representation about the property condition. If you are lucky you will recieve a form with all of the information blank and be notified that the property is sold "as is."  Essentially you are buying the property blind with the right to inspect.  Some bank owned properties are in relatively good shape and in need of very little repair but others need substantial work and repairs. As a buyer, you have to realize that this is why many bank owned homes have such great prices.

RULE #2: BE PREPARED FOR MUTLIPLE OFFERS.  There are often multiple offers on bank owned properties and this is to be expected since many are prices below market. You need to know that there are no order of contacts and the seller can accept any offer no matter when it is presented. You may or may not know about other offers. There is no requirement that you as a buyer be informed of other offers. As a buyer you have to be prepared for the fact that you may lose a property to a competing buyer. 

RULE # 3: BE PREPARED FOR UNRESPONSIVE ASSET MANAGERS AND LONG WAIT TIMES IN NEGOTIATIONS. Bank asset managers and the listing real estate agents are dealing with hundreds of properties. Some who are experienced and have adequate support staff are quick, about responding to offers and issues, and are easy to work with but others are arrogant and unresponsive. In fairness, the approval process requires multiple decision makers. This may be the most frustrating part of the process.

RULE #4: UNDERSTAND THE BANK ADDENDUM.  When you write your offer you will be required to sign the REO Addendum. Be assured that all of the terms of this Addendum protect the REO seller not you. You should have it reviewed by an attorney. Also be assured that unless you sign this agreement your offer will not be accepted.  Watch for you inspection times which often begin at the time your offer is "verbally" accepted and per Diem penalties for not closing on time.

RULE #4: HAVE A GOOD SOURCE OF FINANCING IN PLACE.  You need to be working with a bank or mortgage company that is responsive and quick to act. If you are financing with FHA there may be condition issues that will prevent you from being able to obtain the loan.

RULE #5: BE PREPARED FOR THE INSPECTION ISSUES. In our experience with bank owned sales the inspection process can present challenges. For example, if the house has been winterized with the water turned off you may be required to pay for having the water turned on for your inspection. Every bank owned property is different and in some cases the seller will pay to de-winterize and in others they require the buyer to cover the expense. We have seen this expense run around $350 for buyers. It is important that you incur this expense because freeze ups (broken pipes) are often an issue with bank owned homes.   

RULE # 6: BE PREPARED FOR THE LAST MINUTE CLOSING GLITCH. In our experience there are often last minute closing glitches. There may be title issues or an asset manager who needs to sign off on some paperwork has not done so.


We're back to where we owned homes are often tremendous buys and may even be offered below "market value." They may offer you as a buyer an opportunity to own a house in a neighborhood or community that you never could have afforded. So if bank owned properties are of interest to you, go for it, with a real estate professional to guide you along the way.

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