Writing an offer on a foreclosure is not the same as writing an offer on a privately owned home. Banks are often not looking for the same things in an offer that your normal seller is. In the Charlottesville, Virginia area we have historically had very few foreclosures. At this time we still have many less that other areas of the country, but it is definately more than we have had in the past. In my office there are very few agents who have participated in a transaction dealing with a foreclosure. However, in this market there is a destinct posibility that you will be helping at least one buyer make an offer on a foreclosure and need to be prepared.
To begin with the banks are looking for a cash offer with a quick closing time. Recently I submitted a full price offer for a client on a house that we did not get. The bank accepted another offer for $15,000.00 less, but with a quicker closing time. The listing agent later told me that too many things can go wrong with a vacant foreclosed home, so the banks want to get them off their books as quickly as possible.
When you are writing the offer there are several things that you should know. If you want a well, septic and termite inspection you should put in an ammendment that they must be satisfactory even if the property is being sold as is. It is also important to state in the contract that the seller is to pay any past homeowners dues and taxes. Also many banks have their own addendums that must be included with any offer. These addendums usually state that they superceed the contract. Because of this you will need to put in the addendum everything that you asked for in the contract. When the addendum superceeds the contract everything that you asked for in the contract goes away and if you don't ask for it in the addendum you won't get it.
Many of the forclosures are seeing multiiple offers. When this happens instead of negotiating back and forth, the bank will ask each of the buyers to submit their best offer. They will then choose which one they will accept. If your client really wants the home, it is important to put in an escalation clause so that they will end up being the highest offer.
In this changing real estate market we need to become educated regarding the ins and outs of foreclosures in order to better serve our clients.