5 Tips For Buying a Foreclosure

buying a foreclosure

Foreclosures can be messy and difficult, and they are sure to test your patience.  But the end result could be all worth it.  For us, the house being in foreclosure was what made the deal. Simply put, we could never afford the house had it not gone into foreclosure.

Here’s our home-buying process in a nutshell:  in November 2012 we looked at the house but weren’t sure if we were ready for that commitment, or if we would even live in that town (we lived 3 hours away at the time). In early December, someone else put in an offer and it was accepted, and we were surprisingly devastated.  We knew we wanted the house.  That offer fell through and we submitted our offer on a Monday in early February 2013. We low-balled at $35,000 below asking price, argued with the bank all week long, and finally settled right in the middle that Friday.  We closed May 10, 2013 and work began May 20.  So that’s our story.

house champ-2

Every house and every purchase is different, but these are a few of the lessons we’ve learned.  Some were easy lessons, and some we learned the hard way.

1. Be patient.  This is without a doubt #1 on the list.  To you, it’s the one home that you’re trying to buy. For the bank, it’s not personal at all. It’s one of many on their books, and it has to go through a certain process. And those guys are NOT in a hurry. Ever.

2. Find out how long the home has been vacant. The longer a house has been uninhabited, the greater the chance for major problems.  Some of the biggest issues include plumbing issues, leaks, heating/air problems, and pests. When checking out the house, be sure to test the faucets and toilets, as these generally have trouble working after not being used for extended periods of time. These hidden costs can turn a bargain house into a money pit very quickly.

3. Get a full inspection.  I don’t mean just the “walk around and look at stuff” kind.  I mean the prodding and poking and crawling under the house kind. Many foreclosures will not include disclosures, meaning you have no way of knowing what may have gone wrong in the past. Hire a pest inspector, hire a heating and cooling inspector, hire an engineer.  Whatever it takes. Trust me, an inspection is the best money you will spend on the front end.  Keep in mind that not all foreclosures are good buys once you add up what will be needed to renovate.

4. Make sure the house is insurable.  Because we could not live in the house as-is when we bought it, we had to take out a builder’s risk policy, which was way expensive. You need to take those expenses into account when figuring purchase price and what you plan to spend renovating.

5. Be flexible with your closing date, or be firm from the very start.  Our closing was extended several times, but that was fine with us. We were still in a lease with our apartment, so pushing it back only helped us.  But if you’re in a time crunch, it’s going to be very difficult to get the bank to stick to a set date unless you make that completely clear from the beginning.


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702 Archives: The ABC’s of Vintage Shopping

You may remember this guest post from the Spring, and today I thought I’d bring it to my home page for a little more love.  (Be sure to scroll to the end for more updates!) ABCs People tend to clean out in the spring and summer, and that means that the antique, thrift, and second hand shops are booming with new items!  When it comes to shopping for antique or thrifted items, I’ve learned some lessons that I’d like to pass on to you.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way, with a few of my favorite finds lately. 1. Have a list.  It always helps to know what you’re looking for.  It’s easy to walk into a shop (especially antique “malls” with tons of vendors) and get overwhelmed.  Having a list will help keep you on track. On my list right now? A round table for our foyer and two upholstered dining chairs. IMG_1727 IMG_1729 image 2. Do your homework.  Just because a piece is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s “worth it.”  Early on, I made the mistake of buying a settee that had great bones, but needed some work.  I bought it without doing any research, and have found that having it reupholstered will make it unreasonably expensive.  Also, if you are buying pieces to sell, browse a few other online shops to see what you could reasonably expect someone to pay for the item. IMG_1733 IMG_1736 7 3.  Always look up, and down!  Some of my favorite finds have been ceiling lights and rugs.  Don’t just look at the items in front of you. IMG_1742 IMG_1734 4. Everything is negotiable.  My dad taught me this and it is so true.  Whether you are shopping at an antique or thrift shop or an estate or yard sale, there is always room for negotiating. When I’m in an antique shop, I always ask if I can get a discount on items.  Most of the time, they’ll say yes.  Just like Oprah said, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”  The same goes for shopping.  Don’t be afraid to play a little hard ball. 1920094_10101749297994709_2051913757_n image2 2 5. Be practical.  How much will it cost to repair, paint, upgrade, or reupholster the item? Do you have a way to transport it?  I fell in love with a pink vintage sofa at an estate sale and it was an absolute steal, but figuring out a way to get it home was no picnic. (Let’s just say the hubs was less than pleased!)  These are all things to think about. IMG_1738 IMG_1767  6. Never buy new dishes.  Why would you buy new dishes when you can get tons of gorgeous, vintage sets at a fraction of the cost?!  Plus, they always make a great conversation starter at parties!  And on that note, the same goes for jewelry. IMG_1740 IMG_1732 IMG_1741 If you live in NC, here are a few places I would suggest you try: 1. B&S Auction Gallery – Goldsboro 2. The Trove – Morehead City 3. Emily & Co. – Raleigh 4. Goldsboro Antique Mall – Goldsboro 5. Appalachian Antique Mall – Boone I also troll Craigslist constantly, and check in weekly with the local Habitat ReStore, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. So there you have it.  This spring, get out and test your negotiating skills and support your local economy.  You’ll have some fun, and you might even score a few great pieces for your home! Update: I’ve done a lot more shopping since this post, and have discovered a few more local favorites… 6. Ocean Isle Beach Habitat ReStore – think rich people remodeling beach houses…they get rid of a lot! 7. Sanford Antique Mall – I grew up in this small town and never knew what great finds were right under my nose. 8. Reid’s Country Sampler – located in Selma, NC. With a name like that, need I say more? And though I’ve never visited, these are a few shops that have some seriously yummy Instagram accounts!

  1. Chances Are ATL {home}
  2. South Loop Loft {home}
  3. The Vintage Laundry {home}
  4. Vintage Fine Objects {home}
  5. Decades Antiques & Vintage {home}
  6. Again Dallas {home}

Where is your favorite place to shop for antiques and vintage?

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