Purchasing abandoned property can be tricky | Just Ask Jan

There is a house in our neighborhood that has been vacant for quite some time. We want to buy this house before it goes back to the bank. How can we accomplish this task?

Dear Jan:

There is a house in our neighborhood that has been vacant for quite some time. We want to buy this house before it goes back to the bank. How can we accomplish this task?    — DR

Dear DR:  This is a question that I have been asked more than once. Once the owner “abandons” the property, one would think that you could just contact the bank that holds the mortgage and make an offer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

The current owner has to sign the purchase and sale agreement. If they don’t, the mortgage company’s hands are tied. Many times, the home is worth less now than when the current owner paid for it. Therefore, if the seller signed the offer, it would have to go before the mortgage company to approve it as a short sale.

If the sellers won’t sign the offer, you would have to wait and buy it at the foreclosure sale (if you have available funds to do so), or wait for the bank to take title and then make the offer directly to them.

Almost always now, banks will not entertain offers until they list them with a real estate firm. It would be in your best interest to have a relationship with a good real estate broker who can keep their eyes open for the listing to pop up and then be very assertive about writing the home up and getting the offer into the hands of the listing broker.

Wish it were easier — sorry! Best wishes in getting the home.

— Jan Zufelt is an agent with John L. Scott Real Estate in Kingston.