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In today’s market, where foreclosures are becoming as common as houseflies, buying a property in foreclosure might make financial sense. On average, foreclosures sell for about 10-20 percent less than the market value of similar properties in the same location. Some properties sell for less than tax value. That could make all the difference to buyers who could not otherwise afford it.

But amateur buyers should proceed with caution. A foreclosure carries serious potential risks. If you are just an average Joe wanting to get a good deal on a home for your family, a little bit of homework will go a long way toward preventing a costly mistake.

Get loan approval first.

Before you do any looking, get pre-approved by your bank or a trustworthy lending company. That will save you precious time that you will need once you find the property you want.

Liquidate assets for a down payment.

Most loans require some percentage for a down payment, so gather what you have before you start looking. When you know what you want, you will have the cash (or the check) ready to put on the table.

Use a realty professional.

Unless you have done this often, this is not the time to go solo. The details and legal aspects of a foreclosure vary from state to state, county to county, and even from case to case. A realtor will provide valuable advice and will think of details that would not likely occur to you.

Decide what stage of foreclosure you want to pursue.

You can buy property in foreclosure in three ways:

-Pre-foreclosure means the homeowners have been told by the lending company that they have X amount of time to sell or they will lose the property. They will be motivated to sell for less so it doesn’t go to foreclosure. Buying in pre-foreclosure means you have to be ready to act quickly, but you will be able to view the property.

-Foreclosures sold at auction usually take place on the courthouse steps. Normally you will not be able to view the property. This is the riskiest way to buy. In most states, cash is required, and the new owner is responsible for any liens on the property. It may seem like the best way to get a good deal, but you will also have to compete against knowledgeable bidders.

-Real Estate Owned (REO) homes are properties that did not sell at auction and are owned by the bank or lending company. The bank pays a real estate broker to clean it up and sell for a profit, usually at or just below market price. The discount may not be as deep as those in the previous stages, but banks are usually willing to negotiate, especially if they have a number of these properties on hand. You can see what you are buying, although in this stage properties are sold “as is”: nothing further will be done to fix it up before a sale. To the average buyer, the process of buying an REO property is much easier.

Be ready to repair and remodel.

Just assume at the outset that the house, barn, etc. on the property will be in need of some repair. If the owners could not keep up with the payments, they probably did not spend money on maintaining or upgrading the property either. If you have experience with remodeling, then you are in a good position to buy a foreclosure and fix what is needed. Hiring contractors will be more expensive. Either way, you will have the cost of materials, and that can add up to a significant amount of added cost to the total that you paid for the house. In the end, making repairs might be worth it, if you like remodeling, if the house is sound, and if you have ideas that you would like to try but could not afford to otherwise – and, of course, if the total cost of the house plus repairs is less than you would have paid for full market value.

Beware of hidden costs.

Even newer homes could be hiding serious structural imperfections. The most costly repairs to a home are often those that the amateur eye does not always recognize: replacing a roof, replacing the plumbing system, foundation and support beam repairs, rewiring, or replacing a septic tank. A home inspection by a professional can provide you with a better idea of what you are in for, if you are allowed to do one. Keep in mind that even a professional inspector might miss something major (hidden termite damage). Just be ready for the possibilities beforehand. Repairing old barns and out buildings is a lot easier but can also be costly. Fortunately these can probably wait a little longer or until you are ready to use them.

Keep a cool head.

It helps not to get too attached to a property. A foreclosure that looks too good to be true probably is, or else the investor sharks would have snatched it up. If you are outbid on a property you really liked, keep looking. There will be something out there for you, sooner or later.

Consider buying a HUD home foreclosure.

HUD properties (ie., government-owned) have some advantages. One is that prospective homeowners get first dibs over the investors. HUD also offers photos of the foreclosures for sale, inspection reports, and an estimate of what it will cost to make repairs to the property. Sometimes the property will have thousands of dollars of free equity after you purchase it, so it really is worth looking into.

Buying in foreclosure could be the best deal you ever made, especially if you are able and willing to put some “sweat equity” into it. You will be better off if you have already owned a home and know the ins and outs of home ownership. You will also be ahead of the game if you enter it with savvy, experienced professionals – real estate agents, brokers, or a real estate attorney. Do your homework, and get ready to find the property you’ve always dreamed of owning, and making it your own.

More info: I Dream About Owning A Farm. Where Do I Start..?

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The Four Primary Benefits of Massage

by Carlton Ryan

Massage, a therapeutic practice in which deep pressure is applied to muscles, has been helping people for thousands of years. One of the oldest forms of therapeutic treatment in the world, massage’s value and worth has been confirmed by both modern scientific research and the personal experience of millions of individuals. Here are the four primary benefits of massage.

1. Relief From Muscle Tension

Even the basic movements required by ordinary daily life put muscles under considerable strain, resulting in the development of tension and tightness. Knots, or adhesions — areas in which the muscle is locked in place, unable to relax — often arise. Massage therapy is one of the best ways to loosen these tight, stiff, stressed muscles. When sustained, strong pressure is applied to muscle, the muscle eventually releases and tension dissipates. Blood flow to the targeted area also increases, helping the muscle to stay loose afterwards. Since tense, knotted muscles are so common, almost everyone can gain from this effect of massage.

2. Pain Relief

Tight muscles are a very common contributor to pain of many different sorts, meaning massage is often an excellent way to alleviate pain. For example, back pain can frequently be improved by a massage session. Tight, stiff muscles (wherever they are) are often a direct source of pain themselves, which means that a good massage can help address the minor aches and areas of discomfort that plague almost everyone. Muscle inflammation (which can cause pain) can also be reduced by massage. By helping muscles work properly, massage can help protect from future pain by reducing the chance for injuries, both minor and major.

3. Improved Mobility

When it comes to the benefits of massage, mobility improvement is often an overlooked one. When tense muscles are released, the muscle is able to move and operate as it naturally should. This relief from impingement results in improved muscular function. Now that the muscle can freely extend to its full length, mobility is improved. Range of motion can be restored or made better, and ordinary motions become freer and easier. For these reasons massage can improve athletic performance, which is why many serious athletes get massages regularly.

4. Stress Relief

Massage isn’t all about the physical. It can also benefit psychologically. Massage is a fantastic way to slow down, relax, and let cares and anxiety melt away. Lots of people get massages solely as a means of alleviating stress. To many, simply having another person show them care and attention is enjoyable. The physical effects of massage, such as pain relief, can also help enhance mental well-being. Someone who gets a massage is likely to walk out feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, and in a better mood.

Massage is just not about feeling good, as it sometimes supposed. A quality massage can clearly impart important therapeutic benefits. Nor are these benefits merely unproven theories. In fact, modern scientific research has affirmed the fact that massage has genuine, true health value. This means that the benefits of massage can be experienced by everyone at just about all ages and stages of health.


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