Appearances are Important, But Housebuying Involves More Than Looks

Everyone has heard of "flips". They were often foreclosed houses or condos bought, usually by an investor or some legal entity for the purpose of "fix and sell".

Often, they have updated or completely remodeled interiors that usually include granite countertops in the kitchen, new ceramic tile flooring in the baths plus new shower and tub tiled walls, all new sinks and toilets, stainless steel (or brushed stainless look) appliances in the kitchen, new paint, new carpet or newly refinished floors, sometimes new landscaping outside, maybe a new garage door, and if you're really lucky, a new roof.  What's not to love?   Anyone could get excited about moving into a new home that has that new look that will not need work for quite a while.

But since most buyers are obtaining financing (all cash buyers are about 30% of the market overall), the loan people have requirements.

What You Need to Find Out Before Making An Offer:

Did the seller acquire this property less than 30 days ago? If you're a "regular" buyer with standard financing, you will be locked out of making an offer on this property UNLESS is it a Fannie or Freddie property, owned by a state or government agency, an approved non-profit which handles HUD REOs or one connected to "Neighborhood Community Stabilization Program".

If the seller has owned the property up to 90 days, and the new sales price is 20% or more higher than what the seller paid for the property, then there are more issues: There must be a second appraisal (on top of the first one by the buyer's lender), not at the buyer's expense, but at someone else's, which could be another $500 to be paid up front when it's completely unknown if the two appraisals can somehow agree with each other (and many times appraiser don't agree with each other); additionally, another property inspection must be performed and paid up front by the loan officer.   THEN, copies of all work performed by the seller in renovation must be produced, which only a very caring property flipper will probably have on hand. Remember, property flips are often financed by short term loans by sellers who have never lived in the property and have no attachment to it, and whose disclosures to the buyer will probably be very minimal.  And even if you find a loan officer willing to front another $800 up front, this will not all be accomplished in a 30-day escrow. 

After 90 days? You're good to go.

Who the seller is, the length of time it's been on the market, these are very critical to know before an offer is made. And then the buyer will have to realize that should any items be called out on the home inspection by your inspector (there is no such thing as a perfect home), the seller almost always will refuse to do any additional repair because it's "already been done".  Perhaps, but anything your lender notes on the appraisal(s) will be critical before the loan can close, and if the seller refuses, you may decide to walk. 

SO, let your agent help you with finding properties that will meet your buying and lender criteria. Professional help can save you a lot of time and wrong directions.

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