In real estate investment, one person's misfortune is another's opportunity. Indeed, with so many foreclosed properties on the market, buyers are poised to take advantage of a literally once-in-a-lifetime chance at investment or ownership.
Every opportunity presents some challenges, however, and you'll need more than luck to effectively buy a distressed property. These transactions are more complex than traditional sales, and you are strongly advised to seek the advice and representation of a real estate professional well versed in this new marketplace.
While a bank-owned home may look like a great deal, don't assume that any offer will be accepted. Most banks list their foreclosed properties through real estate brokerages, and while they want to sell as quickly as possible, the listing agents have a fiduciary responsibility to get a good price for the owner.
An insultingly low offer can table the transaction permanently, so proceed with common sense and a trusted representative. Keep in mind when negotiating your offer that you should have an additional 10% of the price tag set aside for repairs. A foreclosed property, particularly an older one, will almost certainly require some overhauls.
In addition to your agent, consult with a local real estate attorney who can advise you about current foreclosure laws, which vary significantly from state to state. Know exactly who's at the door when your opportunity knocks!