Naumann gives advice on buying abandoned home

Q: My next-door neighbors have abandoned their house. According to them, they still own it for three more months and the lender is Countrywide. I would like to make Countrywide an offer on the house. How do I go about it?

— Barbara G., Las Vegas

A: That’s a good question. Assuming you have the financial resources to purchase this second home, you could be making a wise decision that has positive implications for your neighborhood and for our local housing market.

After all, Southern Nevada doesn’t need any more vacant homes in our neighborhoods.

The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors has been saying for some time now that this is a great time to buy a home here in Southern Nevada, where home prices have fallen to where they were a decade ago and recently began to stabilize.

I’d start by suggesting you contact a local Realtor who has experience and recent success helping buyers purchase bank-owned properties.

The good news is that the number of local Realtors with that kind of expertise has greatly increased in the past year or two, as banks are the seller in most transactions here in Southern Nevada.

In fact, according to statistics from the GLVAR, about 74 percent of all homes sold in June were purchased from banks. That tells you how bank-owned properties are continuing to dominate our local housing market, driving down prices and often prolonging the sales cycle.

Believe it or not, that 74 percent figure is actually down from recent months, when nearly 80 percent of all homes sold here in Southern Nevada were owned by banks.

This is the state of affairs that prompted the GLVAR to form a working group on bank-owned (also called real estate-owned) properties. To address these issues, we’ve enlisted the help of the top REO agents in town. Our primary goal is to educate GLVAR members, who can then share this knowledge with home buyers and sellers.

If there’s one thing we’re learning in this challenging time in our economy and in our local housing market, it’s that buying properties from lenders is a process. It takes experience, patience and knowledge.

More and more as the inventory of homes being listed for sale continues to decline, we’re seeing competitively priced homes owned by banks and other lenders drawing multiple offers from buyers seeking these homes. I’m not just talking about two or three offers. I’ve seen situations where more than a dozen potential buyers are making offers on these homes.

We’re also seeing an increasing number of buyers — mostly investors, and many of them from other states — paying cash for such properties. In recent months, nearly 40 percent of all local home buyers are paying cash. That’s more than twice as many cash buyers as we were seeing one year ago.

Of course, cash offers are more attractive to lenders, so they’re more likely to get the home than someone seeking to buy the property with a mortgage loan.

So, for your offer to be competitive, you may want to keep that in mind when determining your purchase price and form of financing.

For more information, consult a Realtor or visit lasvegasrealtor.com.

Sue Naumann is the president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtor and has worked in the real estate industry for nearly 30 years. GLVAR has nearly 13,500 members. To ask her a question, e-mail her at ask@glvar.org. For more information, visit lasvegasrealtor.com.

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