Four years into the housing crisis, myths about foreclosure still litter the minds of even the smartest of real estate consumers. When it comes to matters as high stakes as your home, confusion can cost you thousands – or even your home. Whether you’re a buyer looking at foreclosures, a homeowner struggling to keep your home or a seller concerned making sure your home can compete with the foreclosed homes on your block, these foreclosure myths are prime for the busting, with no further ado.
Keep in mind that in the Bennington VT real estate market, not all of these comments may be applicable. It is important to consult with your bank or real estate professional to determine the best course of action for you. Remember, all real estate is local, and this commentary is more geared towards a national audience.
Myth #1: Foreclosure happens fast. Even though the legal process of foreclosure can happen in as few as 6 months in most states, it is currently taking much longer for the average foreclosure to get to completion. Recently, JP Morgan Chase revealed that their average borrower who loses a home to foreclosure has not made any payments in 14 months nationwide; 22 months in Florida and 26 months in New York.
The fact that foreclosure does not happen nearly as fast, in many cases, as expected does give families who are temporarily down on their luck some extra time to try to get back on their feet and save their homes.
Myth #2: Buyers can’t get clear title or title insurance on foreclosed homes. Buyers of bank-owned properties in nearly every jurisdiction are protected from later title attacks by foreclosed homeowners by the bona fide purchaser rule, under which courts would prefer to simply award cash damages to be paid by the culpable bank to a wrongfully foreclosed-on homeowner, rather than reversing the sale or ownership to the new, innocent buyer.
Myth #3: Buyers should wait for the shadow inventory to be released. Many a buyer, discouraged with the homes they see on the the form in their price range, has decided to sit still and wait for the banks to release for sale what is called their “shadow inventory” – rumored to be anywhere from 4 to nearly 6 million homes that have already been foreclosed, but not listed for sale, or will be foreclosed in the near future. The fact is, to the extent that the banks have acknowledged the existence of a pool of homes they own but are not selling, they have expressed that their reasoning for holding the homes off the market is to avoid flooding the market and driving home values down any further. For that reason, buyers should not expect to see a massive influx of these shadow homes onto the market anytime soon – if ever.
The banks’ current modus operandi is that as they sell a home, the replace it with another home in that market – if they sell 50 homes in a town that month, they’ll put another 50 on the next. So, don’t hold your breath waiting for a fabulous new flood of homes. Instead, set up a Trulia alert to notify you when homes that fit your search criteria come on the market, and be ready to call your agent and go visit any and every one that looks like it might be a good fit.
Myth #4: If you’re looking for a deal, you’re looking for a foreclosure. Despite what they may say, no buyer’s heart’s fondest desire is to buy a foreclosure. But almost every buyer dreams of buying a great home – and getting a great deal on it. Many people think that to get a great value on their home on today’s market, it means they must buy a foreclosure. As a result, the value and other advantages of buying an individually-owned home on today’s market are frequently overlooked. Individual sellers with homes on the market right now are generally quite motivated, and understand that their homes are competing with discounted short sales and foreclosed homes.
Further, individual owners are often much more negotiable on a wide range of contract terms than a bank which owns a foreclosed home. You can work with non-bank owners on things like repairs, closing dates, choice of escrow provider, closing costs and even included personal property much more flexibly than you can when the bank is on the other side of the bargaining table. On top of that, many individually-owned homes are in pristine, move-in condition; that is much rarer with foreclosures.
Myth #5: Having a foreclosure on your credit history means it’ll take years and years before you can buy again. Until recently, the standard wisdom was that 5 years, minimum, would have to have elapsed between the foreclosure and the new home purchase. Now, though, borrowers can obtain an FHA loan with the low, 3.5 minimum down payment requirement as soon as 3 years following a foreclosure. To do so, though, all your other ducks must be in a row.
Excerpted from Trulia.