This post is meant to be more informational than alarmist.
Many of the REO (repo) properties out there need some work. Fannie Mae has a site where they list some of their REOs for sale. The homes need varying degrees of work. Fannie Mae offers loan which have additional money for repairs. The difficulty comes from the way the loans are put together.
Here's the short version of where we are: Client makes an offer, we wait, we get a counter offer with an addendum by the bank, which we sign and send back. That's when things become a little different.
We got a verbal 'conditional acceptance' from the listing agent. So we are not in escrow, but now have to get estimates for any needed repairs. So now my client has to hire the various inspectors and see what is needed. Then we can get estimates.
The septic inspection turned up that we need a new seepage pit ($2000). The home inspection turned up a new roof, dryer venting, and some small electrical work. So now it becomes a little harder, because my client has to get estimates on all this from licensed general contractors. Here is where we start having problems.
A lot of contractors have left the High Desert area of California (and probably other areas as well--Our legislature is not friendly to business and the boom is over), so there are fewer contractors to choose from. The contractors out there, understandably, are reluctant to give estimates on houses that my client doesn't own. Then there is the fact that some who say they will come out and give an estimate never show up.
So now my client is looking at switching the type of Homepath loan he can get (the standard one gives up to $7000 for costs--this house just needed more) and use a credit card for repairs. He's doing this to get the $8000 first time buyer tax credit, which expires November 30, 2009.
Just a word to the wise.
7 months ago