So you want to buy on the Courthouse Steps?

colorful road curve

We just attended a class dealing with Trustee Sales in Arizona, given by a real estate attorney specializing in this portion of the law and a Realtor who is on the steps every day.

We took away a lot of information, but facts that directly apply to you as a buyer are what we will mention here. First the purchase money: you will need a certified check for $10,000.00. That will be verified as you sign up to bid. You will need to make the balance of payment for the property within one business day ! If you fail to make the payment by the end of the following business day after the auction, you lose your $10,000.00 earnest money.

This eliminates all bidders with loans, unless you are to be an investor non-owner occupant and want to deal with one of the unlicensed short term “hard money” lenders at up around 18% with 20-30% down.

The starting bid is stated and it is usually the amount of the first mortgage plus $1.00, but it can change up to the moment of the actual auction. Bids are usually increased by $100 each bid.

Next most important is that you are buying the property totally and completely “as is”. That is the physical as well as the legal condition. You do not get title insurance with the purchase, you may have to evict the current residents. You may have additional liens on the property. You may not have legal title to the property. You may not be able to inspect the property. It may be pristine or it may be destroyed.

There will be bidders representing investors or investment groups who are buying 5 to 100 homes at a time! Definitely the big league.

Incidentally the current (Jan-May 2012) sales numbers show that the winning bids are an average of 31% above the opening bid and 64% of the original loan amount. 80% of the sales are postponed from their original sale date and 60% additionally are postponed on the day of auction! Of those 40% remaining, 56% are purchased by 3rd party buyers.

Our conclusion is that everyone should visit the Courthouse Steps once, just to get a feel for the pace and intricacies of the auction. BUT that to participate as a buyer or as an agent of a buyer is a mistake and could be an expensive mistake. There are Realtors whose only activity is to bid on those steps every day. They have entire teams of professionals working for them, checking bank records, checking with not 1 but 2 title companies, doing Comparable Market Analyses on the property, estimating repairs and establishing a top bid. It is definitely one of those things that we are accepting as “out of our area of expertise” and we will be happy to connect you with confidence with a Realtor whose entire business is centered around Trustee Sales.

How much do I need to put down on my home loan?

For conventional financing that answer is going to be: it depends. With great credit as little as 5% down has you in a conventional loan. With mediocre credit, 10%. But to eliminate the mortgage insurance you still need 20% down. Sometimes, with a bit more down, you may be able to get a better rate. Having a lender who will talk to you and find out what your needs are and presents different options is the best thing. Robyn Robertson from Suburban Mortgage (480-355-8106) talks to me in this video about different types of conventional loans and what is available today in the ever changing world of home lending.