Famous for its national parks, beautiful museums, and delicious food, it’s easy to see why Pennsylvania has become so popular with real estate investors. The median home value in the Keystone State is approximately $198,000, and it has also become a popular spot for property flippers.
But the real question is how to buy foreclosed properties in Pennsylvania. In this post, we will outline the basic details of foreclosures in PA, explain why these properties tend to sell below market value and provide some suggestions for where you can actually find foreclosure properties.
The Basics of Foreclosures In Pennsylvania
A foreclosed property has gone through a process where the lending institution has tried to recover some of the outstanding funds from the property owner who has defaulted on their loan. The lender will then usually sell the property at a foreclosure auction for a lower price than it is worth, to get it off their books as soon as possible.
In Pennsylvania, federal law generally requires the servicer to wait until the property owner is 120 days (or more) behind on payments before officially starting a foreclosure. This gives the property owner sufficient time to explore alternative options before they essentially give up the ownership rights of the property. However, if the property owner contests the foreclosure, it could end up taking longer than this.
Foreclosures often present good investment opportunities for real estate investors, because these properties tend to be sold below their market value. This is mainly because lenders are not in the business of property management and often prefer to sell defaulted properties as quickly as possible in order to avoid paying ongoing maintenance expenses.
In the state of Pennsylvania, lenders and banks need to file lawsuits in order to proceed with the foreclosure process. While much of the buying process for a foreclosed home is the same as any other property purchase, property investors may find the purchase process to be more nuanced in certain ways.
The Foreclosure Auction
Foreclosure auctions often take place in courthouses, county clerk offices and even the property being auctioned. The main gamble for investors is that they are not always allowed to inspect the property before it is auctioned and must take the property at face value.
It’s also important to note that as the buyer of a foreclosed home, you can be liable for outstanding expenses like property taxes, so it is important to research the state of the title prior to the auction.
The lower costs associated with foreclosure auctions attract many property investors looking for a cheaper property they can rehab and flip for a profit. This means competition for these properties can be quite stiff. Nowadays, online foreclosure auctions are becoming increasingly popular as a new way of purchasing foreclosures but can be even more competitive due to the ease of accessing them.
A pre-foreclosure is an earlier stage of the foreclosure process. Pre-foreclosures start when the lender files a default notice on the property, informing the owner that foreclosure will be pursued if they cannot repay their debt.
The length of the foreclosure process will vary depending on location. In Pennsylvania specifically, pre-foreclosure can only be initiated when the property owner is 4 months behind on their loan repayments.
At this point, there is still an opportunity for the property owner to pay off their debt and reverse the pre-foreclosure status. If they cannot make the repayment however, the property will be sold. A pre-foreclosure home that goes up for sale is another outcome, also known as a short sale.
Where To Buy Foreclosed Properties In Pennsylvania
There are a number of online options available to you. The following three websites are a great place to start:
You can also find plenty of additional opportunities by:
Additional Tips for Property Investors
The rest of the process is much the same as with other property purchases, and you will need to present an offer to purchase. If you are buying a foreclosed property, you should check that everything has been done in line with the law and a certificate of title has been issued.
Your offer will be taken more seriously if you can provide a proof of funds letter – this sets you apart from other buyers. This is because if foreclosures are popular in your area with other investors, the chances are that you will have to compete and a proof of funds letter adds gravitas to your offer.
If you are planning to bid, decide how much you are willing to do in advance. Be prepared to bid and exceed other offers in set increments until you reach the limit you set for bidding.
Buying a foreclosed property can be an excellent way to find below market value homes in Pennsylvania. Investors can expect to find properties for better prices at these auctions, but with the caveat of not always being able to inspect them first.If you are prepared to take the risk, go into the foreclosure auction with a concrete plan and a pre-established maximum bid. By doing so, you can limit the risks involved in the transaction and open the door for a highly profitable flip or a rental acquisition that generates passive income for decades to come.