When I buy a foreclosed home, what's the condition of the title?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with REVOLV Real Estate Broker MA & RI

Often when purchasing foreclosures buyers are concerned about the quality issued by the lender. A common belief is that there may be liens or judgments clouding the title. This is a myth. The lender will bid at auction only if it wants the property. The lender, typically the senior lien holder, wipes out all junior lien holders or judgments in the process.

If the foreclosing lender does not bid at that sheriff's sale or auction, it probably doesn't want the property. This may be due to excessive superior liens, such as IRS or tax liens. (Tip: If the lender doesn't bid for the property at auction, you probably shouldn't either.)

The lender, in an effort to recoup its losses, will bid on the property, wipe out other lienholders, then pay the balance of outstanding property taxes to secure the property's clear title. No lender will go through the time, effort and expense of foreclosing, only to lose the property for a few thousand in back taxes.

Having absorbed these costs, the lender generally adds them to the asking price and will sell the property with clear title.

If you have heard that the lender must sell the property for what they paid for it at auction, forget it.

Another myth is that all banks are bending over backwards to give away foreclosed homes. It's true that the lenders want to sell their foreclosures. Lenders, banks in particular, are corporations. These corporations are driven to make money, not to lose it. A bank has to answer to its shareholders just like other corporations do.

The business of repossessing properties is not new. Over the years, many lenders have developed effective methods of selling their REO's quickly, with minimal loss.

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