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    What to Ask about Foreclosure Properties

    Browsing foreclosure listings is one way for a prospective homebuyer to find a new home at a great price. Buying a new house is expensive, but taking advantage of the foreclosure listings can potentially save you thousands of dollars. When a homeowner is 90 days or more behind on their mortgage payments, the title holder (such as the bank that gave them the home loan) will begin the foreclosure process. If the homeowner cannot stop the foreclosure process by coming up with the past-due funds, the home will either go to auction or sold to an investor willing to take on the property. Browsing the foreclosure listings online at real estate websites like Zillow or through a real estate agent can help you find your dream home at a fair and affordable price. If you're looking into purchasing real estate, ask these questions about browsing foreclosure listings.

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    Is this property for sale through auction or real estate agent?
    If the property you're interested in is going to be sold through an auction, make sure you know when bids will begin to be accepted so you don't miss out. If it's through a real estate agent, you can contact the agent yourself or have your own agent contact them to see if you can begin negotiations for the property.
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    Do I have the cash on hand to purchase this property outright?
    If the property is being sold at auction, it is likely needing to be a cash transaction. If you have the money on hand to purchase it, that's optimal. However, if you have received a special loan to purchase a foreclosed home, make sure you bring that documentation with you.
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    Have I completed bidder verification documentation?
    Lenders selling a property at an auction don't want to have their time wasted. They will often require that all potential bidders for a property submit identity and financial verification prior to the auction to make sure that every bidder is a serious bidder.
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    How long is the right of redemption for this property?
    Right of redemption is the period during which the foreclosed owners can buy back their property from the new owners. Each state has their own rules. For example, in California the period of right of redemption is one year, unless the property was bought for the full price of the loan. In that case, the foreclosed upon owner only has 90 days.
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    How much can I afford to spend on a foreclosure property?
    There are special fees unique to foreclosure properties, but there are also taxes and commissions to be paid, just like any other real estate transaction. Make sure to take all expenses into account when determining your bid.
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    Has this property been recently inspected?
    Foreclosed homes are often sold as-is, and any repairs or renovations are entirely your responsibility as the new owner. This is usually not negotiable. If you're concerned about the condition of the property, check to see if it's recently been inspected. If not, you have the right to have it inspected out of your own pocket.
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    If this is an auction property, what are the rules?
    There are different kinds of auctions. Some auctions are open auctions and anyone can come bid on a property, provided they have been verified. Some auctions are sealed, and the bidders submit their maximum bids in sealed envelopes and only then is a winner declared.
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    Are there any liens against this property?
    If there are any liens against this property, you will want to know before you purchase it. Purchasing the home will not guarantee that a third party cannot claim it from you if the previous owner had used it as collateral. Make sure you know of any obligations for the property before you purchase.