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Occasionally, borrowers have raised enough cash at the last minute (usually through desperate fire sales of other unencumbered assets) to offer good tender and have thereby preserved their rights to challenge the foreclosure process. Courts have been unsympathetic to attempts by such borrowers to recover fire sale losses from foreclosing lenders.
As soon a borrower fails to make a loan or mortgage payment on time, the loan becomes delinquent. The foreclosure process begins when a borrower defaults, or misses a loan or mortgage payment. At this point, a homeowner in default will be notified by the lender. Three to six months after the homeowner misses a mortgage payment, assuming the mortgage is still delinquent, and the homeowner has not made up the missed payments within a specified grace period, the lender will begin to foreclose. The further behind the borrower falls, the more difficult it becomes to catch up on payments because lenders add fees for payments that are late, often after 10 to 15 days.
High-cost markets are not the obvious place you'll find rent-to-own properties, which is what makes Verbhouse unusual. But all potential rent-to-own home buyers would benefit from trying to write its consumer-centric features into rent-to-own contracts: The option fee and a portion of each rent payment buy down the purchase price dollar-for-dollar, the rent and purchase price are locked in for up to five years, and participants can build equity and capture market appreciation, even if they decide not to buy. According to Scholtz, participants can “cash out” at the fair market value: Verbhouse sells the home and the participant keeps the market appreciation plus any equity they’ve accumulated through rent “buy-down” payments.
“Anything unusual – in income, for example – tosses good income earners into an ‘outlier’ status because underwriters can’t fit them neatly into a box,” says Scholtz. This includes people who have nontraditional incomes, are self-employed or contract workers, or have unestablished U.S. credit (e.g., foreign nationals) – and those who simply lack the huge 20% to 40% down payment banks require for nonconforming loans.
The highest bidder at the auction becomes the owner of the real property, free and clear of interest of the former owner, but possibly encumbered by liens superior to the foreclosed mortgage (e.g., a senior mortgage, unpaid property taxes, weed/demolition liens). Further legal action, such as an eviction, may be necessary to obtain possession of the premises if the former occupant fails to voluntarily vacate.
When the remaining mortgage balance is higher than the actual home value, the foreclosing party is unlikely to attract auction bids at this price level. A house that has gone through a foreclosure auction and failed to attract any acceptable bids may remain the property of the owner of the mortgage. That inventory is called REO (real estate owned). In these situations, the owner/servicer tries to sell it through standard real estate channels.
As the end of the rent-to-own contract nears, it’s a smart idea to address any minor problems that the home inspection turned up. It’s also a good idea to make small cosmetic improvements and upgrades as needed, if possible, to help increase the value of the home prior to applying for a mortgage loan. It’s called sweat equity … and it can make a big difference when it’s time to negotiate favorable mortgage loan terms.