Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Q: My friend says I can get some real deals buying foreclosed property and short sales.

I want to offer about 50%of the asking price since the Internet sources I follow say that's about average. Where can I get a list of all the HUD foreclosures and other foreclosures on the Island?

A: We have no HUD foreclosures on Vashon and according to the regional director of HUD there are very few in the entire state. Those few are located primarily in Eastern Washington. Virtually all foreclosures and short sales here, and this is primarily true for most of our state, are listed for sale on the multiple listing service sites accessible through most real estate companies.

There are a few very distressed states, like Nevada and Florida where homes can be purchased well under the price listed by the bank. That's not true here. In fact, the banks all too often list the house for more than the owners had been asking before they lost the house. Believe it or not.

In foreclosures, and even more so in short sales, the banks will not take just any offer to be rid of the house. Logically you would think they would, but that's not the way the way they seem to be doing it. They can reject any offer they don't like for any reason. They also have very specific requirements that mean you, the buyer, lose most of your rights. You should also be aware that they will determine if you are a worthy buyer regardless of your pre-approval from a lender.

In addition, on short sales, the seller still owns the house even though the bank must approve the sale, so the bank could agree to take your offer but the seller can refuse to accept it. These are very complicated, difficult sales that take months to close, and they are often no more of a bargain than a currently listed home that's not a short sale or foreclosure. Get competent help before you wade into this. Be sure you're working with someone who has experience with these sales.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Q: Last year the fellow who owned the house behind ours passed away.

One of his children decided to move in with his family. They seemed nice and we thought things would be fine, but now we’re not so sure. He uses an access road on the side of our property that isn’t really a legal access. We always let his dad use the road but never had a written easement. Now the son is tearing out trees and widening the road so that he can get all his big vehicles down there. He has a boat, and RV, and some kind of big truck in addition to their regular cars. We’re really upset by all of this. Suggestions?

A: I am not an attorney and will refer you to a local lawyer who can assist you. However, I can tell you that if they don’t have legal access, and you gave the dad permission to use the road, you may be in a strong position to changing what’s happening.

Remember that you own the road if it’s on your property. If there existed a written easement he might have the right to widen the road to the full extent of that easement, but he doesn’t appear to have a legal right to do anything with the road and it sounds like he is also destroying your property

Seek legal guidance first, and you may even want to contact the sheriff’s office and King County Code Enforcement. I would recommend that you negotiate a legal access agreement but you might want to put restrictions on it that preclude having him destroy a large swath of your property.

I recently had a conversation with a judge who often hears cases from Vashon. She was amazed by the large volume of disputes, particularly over easements that end up in court. She agreed that it would be so much cheaper and easier for neighbors to mediate the problem and was surprised that so many folks would rather fight it out in court at great expense to all parties.