DEAR BOB: A house is about to go to foreclosure auction sale. I am interested in buying it. Can I make a cash offer directly to the foreclosing lender before the property is offered at the public auction? –Cathy T.
DEAR CATHY: Negotiating with the foreclosing lender before the foreclosure auction is usually a waste of time. Until the auction takes place, the lender has no authority to sell the property to you or anyone else except at the required public auction sale.
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If no bidders show up at the foreclosure auction, then the lender owns the property (subject to any redemption right of the defaulting borrower) and can make a deal with you. That’s the time to contact the lender, immediately after the public auction.
PROBATE SALES ARE USUALLY “AS IS”
DEAR BOB: Last October we bought our home. Before we purchased, we got a professional inspection. Our inspector said the furnace was dangerous. But the local gas company representative inspected the furnace and said it was in good condition. After we moved in, when the gas company came out to turn on the gas, the man said the furnace was bad. I phoned the real estate agent. He said to call our home warranty company. As soon as their technician saw the furnace, he said it was cracked inside and unsafe to operate. The warranty company says this was a “pre-existing condition,” which is not covered by our one-year warranty. The seller refuses to pay for a new furnace because the gas company said the furnace was fine. Because it was a probate sale, and we signed release forms, the sellers refuse to pay anything. Are we stuck buying a new furnace ourselves? –Benjamin G.
DEAR BENJAMIN: The general rule when you buy a probate property is you purchase “as is.” That means the seller is not obligated to pay for any repairs.
Because the seller, presumably the estate executor or administrator, was not familiar with the house, it can’t be said he or she knew of the defective furnace.
Also, the fact you signed a release form is not good for you. I suggest you consider this a “learning experience” and pay for the new furnace.
WITH FOUR CO-OWNERS, HOUSE SALE WON’T BE EASY
DEAR BOB: My three brothers and I own the house where we grew up. The longtime tenant recently moved to an assisted-living center. I want to sell the house, as does one of my brothers. The other two brothers think we should keep the house because the neighborhood is slowly improving. I have two teenagers who will soon be going to college and we can use the extra money from selling the house. How can I convince my two “wayward” brothers to sell? –Alicia H.
DEAR ALICIA: Unless all four co-owners agree in advance to sell the house, a sale won’t be easy. However, you and the brother who want to sell can force a sale by bringing a “partition lawsuit” in court.
The judge will be asked in that lawsuit to order the house sold with the sales proceeds divided among the four co-owners.
However, the partition lawsuit will probably cause hostility within the family. Before you seek legal action, ask the two brothers who want to keep the house to buy you and your brother out.
To determine the current market value of the house, a professional appraiser should be hired. That appraisal can become valuable if you decide to bring a partition lawsuit. For further details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “When It’s Smart to Prepay or Refinance Your Mortgage,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant Internet delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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