Is this a dumb idea?

LeahRWHJune 17, 2012

My husband and I have been looking for a house for some time with relatively little luck because we're looking for something a bit hard to find in our area (fixer-upper with 5+ acres within half an hour of his workplace). Last week we finally found a great place at a great price, but it happened to be a HUD house at the very end of its bidding cycle (too late for us to add our bid). The place had been on the market for a while, so we hoped we could just cross our fingers and put in a bid at the very beginning of the next bidding cycle, but alas, the HUD admin accepted a bid before we could get ours in. We were really, really disappointed.

Now, here's my dilemma. I checked the HUD site where it gives information on previous bids, and it turns out that the buyer is an investor, not an owner-occupant. Since the buyer is just buying the place to turn a profit, do you think it'd be weird if we wrote him a letter offering to buy the place from him at some mark-up from what he paid? I figure it'd be a win-win - we'd get the house we want, and he'd get an instant guaranteed return on his investment. Do you think this is a good idea, or should we just wait and hope that it (or some other awesome place) comes back on the market eventually?

If it sounds workable, how exactly would you go about it? The HUD site lists the buyer as an investor, but doesn't give any other information. Should we just slip a letter in the house's mailbox and hope someone finds it? Call the broker and see if she can give us the investor's name? Look up the deed at the county courthouse (or whatever office does that - not sure) and go from there? And should we put an offer in the letter, or just inquire as to whether the investor is interested in selling immediately? I really want that property, but I don't know where to start.

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I think this comes under the heading of 'what have you got to lose?' and you should make the attempt since you say you really like the home and location. The more directly you can contact the owner, the better - I would NOT just leave a letter in the HUD home's mailbox and cross my fingers. Do the necessary digging and see if you can come up with a name and address for the investor. Others here may see it differently, but I wouldn't put offer numbers in the initial letter. Express your interest and intentions, then give the investor your information and if he/she is interested in discussing further they will contact you. Best of luck to you and let us know what you do.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Okay, thanks. I did a bit of digging. HUD won't give me the guy's name - says it's against policy. The broker says it's public information after the place closes in 2-3 weeks, so hopefully she'll give it to me then. If not, maybe the county clerk's website - not sure how often the information there is updated, though. I'm thinking I'll just make the letter an expression of my intent, like you said, and hopefully the investor will contact me and let me have some idea of what he's looking to get for the place.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Will the agent be going to the closing? If she is you could give it to her and ask her to pass it along. It can't hurt to ask.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:55PM
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Go to the place where the deeds are filed and find out how you can access them. The filing clerks will probably be very helpful.

Just remember that the deed may not be filed as soon as it is executed, usually there is a few days lag as it filters through the closing attorney's office.

If the investor has used any financing you may be able to pick up his name from the mortgage docs, which are often filed faster.

In my experience once any doc is filed it is usually available to be viewed, even before it has been scanned into the electronic database. Since you don't know the name of purchaser, you can search with the name of the seller (HUD, presumably), and often, by the parcel's tax ID number. In any case the staff at the filing office will know.

Except if you are in a state which does permit publication of deed info (Texas is one, I think). In that case you may be out of luck.

Hope not, though.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 1:35AM
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I just did some digging on the county gov website, and I found where you can access the deed records for every property in the county online, so I think I ought to be able to get the new owner's name/address off of that, assuming it's updated reasonably quickly. It's aggravating waiting for them to close so I can find out! Any idea where to look for the information from the mortgage docs?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:08AM
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I'd think the sooner you can get your offer to the investor, the less time, money and effort the investor will have sunk into the property, and the lower your possible price will be. If they've already closed, signed contracts, bought stuff, etc., then you'll have to pay for all that...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:28PM
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Yeah, I agree. I wish I could get an offer to them NOW, but I apparently can't get the name of the investor until after closing. Talked to the broker, several HUD offices, etc., and I guess it's not public information until all the papers have been signed, which won't be for another 2-ish weeks. So I guess I'm stuck waiting until then. Hopefully I can get ahold of them before they put any work into the place.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 10:19AM
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When you say you talked to the broker - do you mean yours or is it another one involved?

If the broker is somebody who has the information, but won't for privacy reasons pass it on I would just prepare an offer and have them pass it along to the investor.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 10:33AM
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I mean the broker who listed the HUD house. She must know who bought it, since she told me a couple details about how the closing process was going. I think I'll give her a call and see if she's willing to pass a letter along. She was kind of condescending and rude the last couple times I talked to her, but maybe.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 11:57AM
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The realtor may be acting testy because she sees a deal coming about that she is not a part of and being cut out of the subsequent commission.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Okay, apparently the broker will pass this on. This is the letter I'm planning to give her tomorrow to give to the investor - any adjustments I should make? Never had to write anything like this before...

To whom it may concern:

I understand that you are in the process of purchasing (ADDRESS OF PROPERTY). My husband and I have been house-hunting for quite some time with not much luck, and we were delighted to find that same property, since it has the attributes we were looking for - a large fixer-upper on a number of acres at a convenient location for us. Unfortunately for us, we found it too late to submit our own bid on the place.

To make a long story short, we'd like to buy it from you. I noticed on the HUD website that the purchaser is listed as an investor, which I hope means that you are interested in selling. We are already pre-approved for financing with (BANK), and our current lease is month-to-month, so we're ready and able to make a fairly quick deal. I feel that this would be a win-win situation: our family would get the home that we want, and you would get a quick, guaranteed return on your investment.

I've asked (AGENT) of (BROKERAGE COMPANY) to pass this letter along to you. If you are interested, please contact me at the above address or by phone (###) or email (...). I look forward to hearing from you.



    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 9:18PM
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Looks good, but it has been more than a day.
Did they pass it on?
Keep us posted!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 1:11PM
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I mailed it the day after I posted that, but I'm pretty sure it didn't get there until Saturday, so I doubt they passed it on yet. I just want to hear back already so I can quit wondering about it!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 9:49AM
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