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Understanding Foreclosure

Jun 21, 2008
The recent collapses in the mortgage industry have left a large number of consumers scratching their heads in an effort to better understand the economics behind borrowing money. From the opposite side of the spectrum, this rash of foreclosures has left many savvy real estate investors scratching their heads trying to figure out how they can make money from the foreclosed properties. Though the processes can be lengthy and rather complicated, the best place to start is with a basic understanding of how foreclosure works, and what it actually means.

Foreclosure is simply the act of a bank, mortgage company, or anyone else who loaned you money for your house saying, "We loaned you money and you aren't paying us back in the way that we agreed. As a result, the loan is cancelled. Pay us now." Most people cannot repay the loan immediately so the house is claimed as collateral. This process can take several different forms.

The first is judicial foreclosure. Judicial foreclosure involves the court system. This is the most common type of foreclosure, and in many areas it is the only legal option of foreclosure available. The court system will oversee the sale of the foreclosed property and the money made from the sale will go to pay back the bank or mortgage company. If there is any money left over, it will be used to pay off any liens that may be held against the property. Liens are claims that other creditors may place against your property. The lien is a legal agreement that says. "Party A owes me money, so if they decide to sell their house then they don't get any of the money until the debt to me has been paid in full." After all the creditors and lien holders are paid, the original homeowner will get whatever is left.

The second type of foreclosure is non judicial foreclosure. Also known as "foreclosure by power of sale," this is the preferred method by most creditors because the process tends to move much faster than court supervised foreclosure. This method is not legal in every state. The distribution of funds follows the same schedule as the court supervised foreclosures, with the original homeowner finally getting whatever proceeds of the sale are left at the end.

If you are an investor seeking to take a 2nd mortgage and buy foreclosed real estate, then you will quickly become familiar with the term, lis pendens. This is a Latin phrase meaning "pending lawsuit." In the world of mortgages and foreclosures, it is a publicly recorded list of properties that are about to foreclose. Once the process has begun for judicial foreclosure, the municipal clerk in your county or town will publish the list of suits that have been filed. This is a great place to look for real estate investors who may be able to buy homes directly from people who are about to go through foreclosure. It is a chance to pick up property for a good price and for them to avoid going through the foreclosure process.

Before a suit is filed, the creditor is required to issue a Notice of Default. This is a legal notice that informs you, the borrower, that your original loan is in default status and that the original agreement that was established for payment is no longer binding. Most lenders will place a mortgage into default status when the payment reaches the point of being 90 days late. By day 95, the Notice of Default will have been presented to you. If you have a default loan you may still be able to salvage your home, but you will need to act quickly.

As a real estate investor, there are two different ways to buy distressed properties. The first is to purchase pre-foreclosure properties. It is pre-foreclosure because the property still belongs to the original homeowner. Though proceedings for the foreclosure may be underway, the homeowner may be willing to sell the property for just enough to satisfy the amount of the loan. This leaves the investor with a great deal on a piece of property and the homeowner avoids the traumatic experience of foreclosure. Foreclosure property sales that are not "pre" have already reached the point where the property is back in the banks name and they are selling it just to see how much they can recover. Again, this is a great opportunity to buy, as the banks often don't push for higher prices at auction. They simply want to recover the outstanding portion of the loan.

The increase in sheer volume of foreclosure is evidence that many people simply do not understand what they are getting into when they buy their first home. Having identified this as a problem, there are many government back institutions and even some private ones, who offer assistance to home buyers. While they can help you secure funding, organizations like VA/HUD, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae are also excellent sources of information.
About the Author
This is Emil from investing-in-property.com coming to you with this article on property investment. If you'd like to find out more please visit my website .
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