Updated: Jul 24, 2019

The term distressed properties refers to homes that have been put onto the market because the homeowner has fallen into some sort of financial peril and needs to be rescued from his/her debt. Rather than avoid these sales, buyers could potentially pick up a bargain. And, in so doing, help save somebody from their own financial troubles.

The key with all these properties is to remember that you get what you pay for. If the price of the property sounds too good to be true, the reason is usually that the home isn’t in great condition. When considering these properties, buyers should set a purchasing budget as well as an additional renovation budget. It is not always easy to arrange to view these kinds of homes, but it is still worth chatting to a contractor to hear their thoughts on the property and to provide a loose estimate on what it would cost to get the property back up to scratch.  

To help buyers understand these kinds of sales, here are three corresponding terms used to describe these properties:

Bank-mandated Sales These sales are the first stage in the downward spiral of distressed property sales and are usually the least risky of these sorts of transactions since the owner is on board with the sale. Behind on payments, the mortgage-holder usually volunteers to have the bank put the house on the market to recover the rest of the debt owed to them rather than attempt to catch up on the payments. In these cases, homeowners may still reject offers they deem too low, but are usually willing to accept slightly lower offers to avoid having their property go to public auction.

Sales in Execution / Public Auctions If the sale is taking too long, or the homeowner decides not to go the bank-mandated sale route, the bank may decide to take things to the next stage. After obtaining the required approval from the High Court, the property can be sold at a public auction. Rather than holding out for the best price, these sales aim to recover the outstanding debt owed to the bank and any associated costs in the quickest way possible. For this reason, a recent addition to Rule 46 by the High Court was made at the end of last year which, in short, makes the process more difficult for banks to go the route of a sale in execution and encourages them rather to place the property on their distressed programmes. Buyers who manage to purchase at auction might be liable for any outstanding rates and taxes on the property. Be sure to read the fine print carefully before signing the purchasing agreement.

Foreclosure / Bank Repossessed Property Should the property fail to sell at public auction, the bank takes possession of the home and mandates the sale to their chosen estate agent.

The misnomer is that in all these sales, it is not the house that is in distress but the homeowner. Through the RE/MAX Certified Distressed Property Advisor program, we train our agents to deal with these delicate and highly emotionally-charged transactions. We aim to provide the best service to both the seller and buyer. Find your nearest RE/MAX office to get in touch with a CDPA accredited estate agent today.

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