Buying Hud Homes as Investments

by : Steve Gillman

Buying HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) homes isn't necessarily a way to get rich quick. These homes are supposed to be sold at market value, after all, which would seemingly make the great deals you hear about a myth. However, there are some profit opportunities here.

One of the reasons you still find good deals on HUD homes - even though they are supposed to sell at market value - is that they are sold "as is." These are houses that have been foreclosed on and repossessed, so the previous owner may not have had the means nor the motivation to properly care for the home. They often have enough problems to scare away most home buyers.

What does this mean? It means that due to the condition, the market value may be low compared to properly-maintained homes. This can mean an opportunity for an investor who is willing to fix a few things. For example, to the general public, a "problem house" can be worth $40,000 less than surrounding homes, while it may take only $10,000 make it look good again.

Buying HUD Homes

What is a HUD home? It is a house that has a HUD-insured mortgage loan on it. When the owner doesn't make the payments, HUD pays the lender what is owed, and then takes ownership of the home. They try sell it quickly, and at market value. Virtually anyone who can pay cash or get a loan is eligible to buy these houses. (HUD employees and relatives of HUD employees are eligible, but must receive written approval from the Director of HUD's Office of Single Family Asset Management in order to purchase a HUD-owned single family property.)

HUD homes are found in all sorts of neighborhoods, although most are meant to be affordable to low-income and moderate-income families. These are homes that generally sell for the same as surrounding homes (except when they need work). To find HUD homes in the price range you want, then, you simply look for neighborhoods with homes in that price range.

If A HUD house need fixing up the asking price will reflect that. HUD may offer special incentives such as an allowance to upgrade the property, a moving expense allowance, or a bonus for closing the sale early. The houses are sold "as is," but HUD will allow you to get professional inspections prior to making an offer. The cost of these will be yours, however, whether or not you make an offer or buy the home.

On most sales, you can request that HUD pays all or a portion of your financing and closing costs. Essentially you just make an offer as you would on any property, except that HUD homes are typically sold in an "Offer Period," at the end of which all offers are opened and the highest reasonable bid is accepted. If not sold in the initial Offer Period, you can submit a bid any day of the week, including weekends and holidays, until the home is sold. If your bid is accepted, your real estate agent will usually be notified within 48 hours.

HUD doesn't loan on these homes, although they do offer mortgage insurance programs that can help you get a loan. Contact a HUD approved lender for more information.

Investing In HUD Homes

HUD gives priority to owner-occupants purchasers. However, if there are no acceptable bids during the priority period, unsold properties are then available to all buyers, including investors. Your real estate agent should have the necessary details.

There are a couple ways to find out what HUD homes are available in your area. You can visit the HUD web site online and see the listings there. A better way is to find a participating real estate agent. He or she will know what is for sale, but also may know what HUD homes will soon be for sale. In any case, your real estate agent must submit your bid for you - HUD generally doesn't accept offers directly from buyers.

When you make an offer, your real estate agent should help you with any paperwork. The settlement date (if your offer is accepted), will normally be within 30-60 days. You need to arrange financing and close the sale within this time, or forfeit your earnest money deposit (or you may be able to pay for an extension of your sales contract). The selling agent's commission will be paid by HUD but only if you make this a condition of your offer.

Of course, when buying HUD homes, you have to analyze them like any other investment. If it will be a rental, you have to do the math to see if you'll have positive cash flow. If you plan to fix it up and sell it, be sure there is a profit after all expected and some unexpected costs. Just because it is a HUD home doesn't men it's a great deal.