Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 20, 2017
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Is that condo a steal?

Few doctors visit Florida these days without at least thinking about getting a deal on real estate. There were over 400,000 foreclosures in the state in 2009. Wouldn't it be lovely to snap up a beachfront condo for a song?

Unfortunately, foreclosures are not lovely things. They're made out of the pain of the original owner who lost his or her home and the grief that may accrue to you in the purchase. Even then, you may not get the property at much of a discount. "You can buy foreclosures for as cheap as 30 percent or 40 percent below market, but most sell for five percent below market," says John T. Reed, editor of Real Estate Investor's Monthly, a newsletter based in Alamo, California.

In the end, it may not be worth the trouble. Buying a bank foreclosure is not like purchasing a house up the street in Calgary or Mississauga. For one thing, it can take a lot of time. Says Todd Beitler of the Real Estate Library in Boca Raton. "If somebody spends 10 hours a week for five weeks to do research, it's worth it." Here are some of the things you have to watch.

Detailed inspection: People who can't afford the mortgage payments don't put money into maintenance. Empty properties are vandalized. Get a professional inspection done and make sure the utilities are turned on and tested.

Double-check the paperwork: If, for example, the previous owner lost the place because of non-payment of homeowner association fees, he or she has 180 days to pay them and reclaim the property — even if you've bought and paid for it. That's just one of a host of possible trip-ups.

Take your time: It's not unusual to have to wait two months or more before the bank has everything in order and is prepared to close.

Buy title insurance: If you have a mortgage, you'll need to get insurance. But even if you pay cash, take it. It's a one time premium policy that protects you against such things as liens and other title defects that show up after you've made the purchase.

There are many places to begin your search. Here's one of them: condo.com.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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