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Home > Adventures in Foreclosure House Shopping (Long)
 

Adventures in Foreclosure House Shopping (Long)

June 22nd, 2008 at 06:58 am

First some background info ... 8-1/2 months ago we relocated from Seattle to Austin. We're in an apartment and are house hunting. We want to buy a house, but we are in no hurry. We are waiting until we find a super deal: house we really like, in a location we really like, at what we feel is a great price.

We are extremely flexible as far as location; DH works from home, and I am just doing temp work until we know where we will be settling. Our requirements have to do with proximity to things like golf courses and grocery stores, not places of employment.

We are also 100% flexible about closing date. While we do have a lease, we are completely prepared financially to break the lease and pay the required penalties (as spelled out in the lease), or to just keep paying the rent on an empty apartment, whichever winds up making the most sense financially. Having said that, since we renewed our lease, we have scaled back on the house hunting. As we get start to get closer to the end of the lease, we will intensify our efforts.

We are also fairly flexible about size and features of the home. We have preferences (some strong, some weak), but we are not allowing ourselves to get limited by certain requirements.

We are cash buyers. That matters to some sellers, and to some it does not. (Some will give you a better deal if you pay cash, some will not.) We expect to get a better deal; if we can't, we will move on to the next house.

If any realtors are reading this, they are probably rolling their eyes. When we talk to one at a house we look at, we can just tell that either they think we are full of BS, or we drive them crazy.

Q: Which area are you looking at?
A: We're flexible.

Q: When do you want to move?
A: We're flexible.

Q: What is your price point?
A: We're flexible.

Q: What are you looking for in a house? Certain number of bedrooms? Granite countertops?
A: We are looking for a great deal. As far as the features of the house, we are flexible.

That is all the honest-to-God truth ... Not one bit of BS involved, but somehow I don't think many of them believe us! And if they do believe us, it drives them nuts because they cannot mentally put us in to a box.

We have looked at hundreds of homes, including some foreclosures. We are neither specifically looking for a foreclosure, nor are we ruling them out. As always, "we are flexible."

Last weekend we went to look at 2 foreclosure houses. They were right next to each other. DH had heard about one of them (house A) from a guy he golfed with who lived in the area ... The guy said we should check it out, because the price had recently dropped and it was currently the best deal in the neighborhood (in his opinion).

We had tried to reach the agent for house A, but she never returned our repeated calls. We did reach the agent for house B (the house next door) and set up an appointment, and when we mentioned that we were trying to coordinate visits to both houses at the same time, she told us not to worry, that she would let us in to house A.

We showed up at house B at the set time, and no one was there. After several calls we finally reached the agent. She said she had the wrong time on her calendar, that she would be there soon, and she gave us the access code to house B. BTW ... She never did show up; she had no intention of coming out. We asked her "what about house A" and she said she was sorry but it was already under contract. We went in to house B and looked around. It was nice house in good shape, but we thought it was over-priced.

We then walked over to house A and found a 2nd number for the agent's company posted on the door. We called and finally reached someone (not the original agent but another one), and found out that the house was NOT under contract. The house B agent had flat out lied to us ... She just did not want us to go see house A. (We had googled her company name before we went out and found nothing. We suspect that all she does is buy up foreclosures and re-sale them.)

The agent for house A asked us to wait, and she popped in her car and was there in less than 30 minutes. Long story short, the guy DH got the tip from was right. It really is the best deal in the neighborhood. It was a former model home that had just about every upgrade you could imagine, but we decided it was just too big for us and the upkeep would be too much. (We had seen the square footage in the listing but thought it had to be a mistake ... It wasn't.)

But this is where it gets interesting ... When we walked in to the house, in the family room huge chunks of paint were hanging down and there was obviously water damage on the ceiling. And then I noticed that the air vents throught the entire house were full of bits of insulation. The agent was very surprised and went upstairs and in to the attic (positioned right above the family room). Someone had done something so that the water heater had drained out, and they had slashed open air ducts so that they filled with insulation. The house had been on the market for 3 months, and the agent had been out at the house 2 weeks before and everything had been fine. Coincidentally, that was the time the price on the house had dropped.

Hmmm ... Let's see...

Two foreclosure homes side by side ... Price on the clearly better and larger house drops to BELOW the price on the smaller and less desirable house ... Agents have access to all homes for sale at all times of the day and night, including the agent who clearly was not above pulling off a sneaky trick (telling us the house was already under contract when it wasn't) ... The house that is now clearly a much better deal is suddenly vandalised ... Hmmm ...

I must say that the world of foreclosures is definitely different than the much more genteel world of standard real estate transactions. Anyone who is thinking of trying to buy a foreclosure, be prepared to deal with anything and everything. We have looked at 4 foreclosures so far, and all have had issues:

- A pre-foreclosure where the owner had re-financed several times at higher loan amounts each time, apparently using the money to buy fancy toys, and then was unable to sell at the current market price because he owed more than the home was worth due to his own stupidity.

- A bank owned property where clearly the owner had stopped being able or willing to maintain the house, resulting in serious damage (holes in roof and siding)

- The 2 houses mentioned above: 1 over-priced, 1 sabotaged

We are not going to stop looking at foreclosures, but we now know not to be surprised by anything we may find.

8 Responses to “Adventures in Foreclosure House Shopping (Long)”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    Sorry that you are not being treated well by some of the agents.

  2. Analise Says:

    I admire your perseverance looking for/researching properties and also that you have a very rational plan for purchasing a house. You will no doubt be successful in finding the perfect home in the future.

  3. lost in debt Says:

    Over a 100 houses you have viewed; I think I would be burnt out by now. You at least know now you don't want a big house - that is one thing you can tell a realtor that will help. My son lives in Austin and he says it is booming and things are pretty good there; he doesn't like the climate though and hopes to move toward snow country, it's hard to ski there.

  4. gamecock43 Says:

    keep us updated, this is interesting!

  5. scfr Says:

    Yes, we do get burned out from time to time (especially me) and then we take a break. The last house we bought, we looked off & on for almost 2 years before we bought.

  6. klbb90 Says:

    Interesting! Stay strong, a friend just bought a foreclosure in Florida in a great neighborhood. You'll find the right place for you.

  7. baselle Says:

    Go for it, Madame Vulture. Remember that based on all the symptoms you describe it means that the prey isn't dead yet. Time to wait and preen the feathers!

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