Bargain Hunters Flock to Bid on Bank-Owned Homes, but Settlement Is Often Delayed 

(Source: Washington Post)

As bargain hunters turn their attention to foreclosures, many are discovering the toughest challenge is dealing with the banks that repossessed the homes. These banks are usually quick to accept a bid and write a contract. But the closer buyers get to the settlement table, the greater the potential for bureaucratic bungling and the chance the buyers will give up.

The housing market stands little chance of recovering until the foreclosures are sold. Distressed properties make up roughly a quarter of U.S. homes for sale. Moving them would go a long way toward stabilizing home prices. But working with the banks, which are typically based far from the homes they’re selling, is not as simple as buying from a regular homeowner.

“Things go wrong, and it takes the bank a lot longer to deal with them,” said Vivianne Couts, a Virginia real estate agent. “There are a lot more people involved, many more layers. The Realtor can’t always call the bank and say, ‘What’s going on here?'”

Read Dina ElBoghdady’s full article “Foreclosure Sales Stalled by Red Tape” in the Washington Post (April 13, 2009).

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