Second Look at Low Real Estate Offers

by : Dale Rogers

Foreclosures in the country have pushed past over one million homes. Couple that with folks just trying to sell their home for whatever reason and there is a glut of homes in many markets. While this level is high it is within many historical swings of the past. The point of this discussion is to point out the incredible buyers market that exists in many areas of the country.

Arbitrage in the financial markets takes advantage of price differentials between more than one market. Money is made taking advantage of the differences. In real estate, with the benefit of trained Certified Property Managers and the like, there exists the potential to invest in areas, which are depressed and hold good value in the future. Like examining the financials of a company so the same type of play can be marshaled with investment situations across the country. In crafting offers, returns in the 25% plus range over say a two-year period must be factored in even consider the ramp up into these venues outside of one's backyard. Finding deals in the backyard would be best, however, lacking that one must look elsewhere. In an example of buying a rental condo in a resort area that has abundant inventory and has plenty of foreclosures forcing prices down some investment play may be possible. If a rental condo is listed at $300,000.00 and has and existing mortgage of $280,000.00 with a pending foreclosure pressing the owner this might be a deal worth looking at. Owners with ARM mortgages with accelerating payments and/or other pressures have come to bear on owners who find themselves in a fix. Many of these condo rental properties with onsite rental offices make for a decent cash flow. In some water front properties the gross rents will approach $30,000 plus per year. In trying to negotiate with a lender with a foreclosure action in hand it is best to have ones own financing or cash to bring to the table. That lender will not cut the price (mortgage) if they are being asked to hold the mortgage. In this example, a proposed 'Short Sale' would be probed as a possible action. In this case, the owner receives nothing. The owner may save a foreclosure nick on their credit but that's it. The lender on the other hand will be offered an offer in the $240,000 range IF the return is figured. The lender takes a $40,000 plus hit on the deal with additional costs for legal fees, past payments, late charges, etc. in addition to the 'short' settlement. This is a big hit for the lender. However, Real Estate Owner (REO) properties have to be liquidated. If the lender foreclosed and sat on the condo for another six months and took another hit at sale time, the proposed $40,000 plus hit starts to look pretty good.

An investor needs to determine the condition of market place in a year or two. The economy still has strength, employment is strong, so then it is a question of what will be happening in the market down the road. If that analysis comes up positive then one would continue on the track. An outside force on these waterfront investor condo properties will come to into play as when possibly the dollar falls against the Euro or Pound. Those buyers coming into the market with stronger currencies will see these situations as strong buying opportunities and prices may spike back up. A Realtor needs to market to these buyers immediately. In addition, with stronger currencies abroad vacations in these waterfront condos can almost look cheap with a good deal of safety. A few years down the road, the rentals could be pumping and the demand could be up for these specific properties which can be rented when not being used by the owners. Naturally, there is no guarantee that this will play out exactly that way, but it is an educated analysis basis on the facts currently in hand. When depreciation, interest deductions and other factors are put into the equation, perhaps a $40,000 'short' is not enough. Perhaps it will take a little more. In any case, an investor's numbers should be shared with the lender to shore up the case for the 'short sale' and give a little cover to the work out specialist who is signing off on the deal. The lender will have several BPOs (Broker Price Opinions) of the value as several AVMs (Automated Value Models) to further peg the value. However, if things have not been moving with say six months exposure to the market place, then the lender may be compelled to pull the plug.

Much like when the accelerated depreciation plug was pulled in the 1986 Tax Code, properties must stand on their own. Limited Partnerships and REITs were being offered with low (50% LTV) leverage to realize any kind of cash flow. In this case, a highly leveraged mortgage would insure a negative cash flow. Thus the return on investment will be calculated on a low leveraged situation. The 25% plus return then would be possible. Each case needs to be turned inside out before making an offer. If there has been several price reductions over the listing period with offers of paying all the closing costs and such, then this will garner further investigation. To save a lot of time, the question phased as: 'To save us both a lot of time, I'm looking to buy at a deep discount from a motivated seller or a lender who will consider a deep 'short sale. I'm very liquid in cash and can close quickly. Is there any shot at a deal on this property?' If not move on.

This glut of properties won't be here forever. It took a few years to absorb the Savings and Loan fiasco and major write-downs that took place, but it was absorbed and money was made by many. The original owner being in an overly leveraged mortgage situation may have cast the initial foreclosure situation. High leverage kills when the underlying financing is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage in a rising interest rate market. Cash flow disappears. The bleeding begins.

It's no place for the faint of heart. Like arbitrageurs in the financial markets, it takes a strong will, liquid cash and a good feel for the current market and the future market and how it will all play out. The climate for a play is here and now in some targeted areas. Over 1,000,000 foreclosures, a glut of listings on the market, a falling dollar making attractive situational buys to foreign borrowers makes for a play now. 'Knock, knock.' 'Who's there?' 'Deal' 'Deal Who?'
'To Deal Or Not To Deal, That Is The Question'

Dale Rogers

All rights reserved. Article may be reprinted as long as the content remains intact, unchanged, and all links remain active.