Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Can I really buy a home for pennies on the dollar? The Infomercial Promises

Well, not really pennies on the dollar. And it's not what you think it is.

I know some of you have seen these articles or infomercials telling people that they can buy foreclosures at the sherrif sale. That is true, but Minnesota has very different rules than other states, making it impractical. The current market also makes this undesirable.

Here's what the infomercials tell you to do:
1. Read the legal notices in the paper and choose a property from the foreclosure notices that you are interested in. And all of the addresses are in legal description, so be up on your legal descriptions. (Such as: Anna E Ramsey's Addition, Lot 10 Block 3. That's in the Lexington Hamline neighborhood.)

2. Then, go to the courthouse and pay the price at the sheriff sale.
Sounds so easy! But here are some problems:
- You need to pay cash. Pretty much then and there.
- It is very unlikely you have seen the interior of the property, as the owners still live there
- The price you will pay is some amount ABOVE the mortgage amount. Many people going into foreclosure today owe more than the house is worth. So you are paying WAY MORE than the house is worth.
- And the big kicker, if the previous items aren't enough: in Minnesota, after the sheriff sale, the owners have 6 more months to live in the property. That's right -- if you buy that property at the sheriff sale, you have just bought a property with tenants that will be living there for free for 6 months. And you cannot control what they will or will not do to the property.

So, good luck with that.

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