Thinking of Buying A Foreclosure In Bellingham? Read This First!

Everyone wants to get a steal on a foreclosure these days. Here are the steps:

Watch for upcoming sales. These sales are posted on several websites. Be aware that the sale dates can change…over and over. I saw one where the first sale date was 2/2009, and it is still being postponed.

Research the property. This may seem obvious, but what do you look for?

  • Look up how much is owed on the property. Only be concerned with the first mortgage. Any junior mortgages will be wiped out when the house is foreclosed.
  • Check the assessed value.
  • Check the zestimate on Zillow, but take this with a big grain of salt; even they say they are right less than half the time.
  • Drive by the property and try to determine if it is occupied. Do not trespass!
  • See if it’s listed. If so, call me or your Realtor to get inside. You must get in the property. Do not under any circumstances buy a foreclosure that you have not personally inspected. It may look fine from the outside and be completely stripped and trashed on the inside.
  • Check with the Whatcom County Assessor’s office to see if the property taxes are current and if not, how much is owed. This will be your debt if you buy it.
  • Check with the Whatcom County Building Services to see if there are any red flags on permits.

The bank will post the minimum bid price, sometimes the day before or even the morning of the sale. Determine, based on your research, if it’s a good deal. Sometimes it’s not. If it is, you will probably not be the only person looking at it.

Most sales in Bellingham are on Friday morning at 10am in the court house lobby. It’s a good idea to go watch a couple sales before you actually bid. They spend a good amount of the time reading off the sales that have been cancelled or postponed.

Know your maximum price. When it’s your property’s turn, they will announce the minimum bid price and ask if there are any bids. The lowest bid is one dollar more. That’s where you start. If there are no other bidders, that will be the sales price. If there are other bidders, bid up to your maximum and then stop! Don’t be attached to the results. Don’t get caught up in the bidding process.

If you win the bid, you must deliver cash to the escrow company within 48, sometimes 24 hours, check to be sure.

Buying foreclosures is not a casual undertaking. It’s a part-time job. I highly recommend hiring…well, me to help you. Yes, it will cost you a selling commission but this is a complicated process and a competent guide is invaluable. You can get a good deal, in fact, a very good deal. You can also get burned and buried alive if you are incompetent at it. Contact me, if you’d like to know more.