Update: Quirks of buying FNMA foreclosure

This month I did four closings for clients buying foreclosed homes owned by Fannie Mae (FNMA). FNMA mortgages account for well more than 50% of the mortgages in the universe and its Homepath website lists all of the FNMA foreclosures currently for sale. Many of the foreclosed homes on the market (also known as “real estate owned” (REOs)) are FNMA owned, so if you are buying a foreclosure, its likely that it is FNMA owned. 

Buying a FNMA home is easier than buying a short sale, but harder than buying from a seller who’s not in foreclosure.  In October 2009, I wrote about the quirks of buying a FNMA foreclosure. Buying a FNMA is still as quirky as Napoleon Dynamite on a first date, but it’s a little easier than it was in 2009. Here’s an update on what to expect if you buy a FNMA foreclosure:

1.The infamous addendum still exists. This is a rider that goes on the standard real estate contract.  The addendum is hard to understand. It still takes about one week from the time the offer is submitted to get the final signed contract and addendum back from FNMA. Most of the time, we get the final signed contract back faster now than we did in the past.

2. Acknowledgement Date Confusion. The FNMA Addendum still  has a weirdo clause that says the inspection contingency starts on the date of verbal “acknowledgement” of acceptance of the offer by FNMA. No other REO sellers do this, only FNMA.   Be sure to set up your inspection right away, or ask in writing for an extension of the inspection contingency, so that you don’t accidentally blow the contingency date. I really wish they would get rid of this and just start from the date of acceptance of the contract.  I have not had any problems with this, but you have to be on top of scheduling the inspection and do it right away.

3. Dewinterizing for Inspection. All REO sales are winterized, meaning the water and utilities are shut off. You need them turned on to inspect the property. Back in the good old days of 2009, FNMA often forced the buyer to dewinterize the property which was a hassle because you had to have a plumber there to plug the two thousand leaks that sprung when the water was turned on. Thankfully, FNMA now almost always dewinterizes the house before the home inspection instead of passing it off on the buyer, which is good. In my experience, you are unlikely to get any credits after the inspection and FNMA will not agree to repair anything. Unfortunately, clients rarely listen to me on this and insist on bringing up a long list of repairs that FNMA always rejects.

4. Title Insurance, Transfer tax and survey. FNMA used to try to get the buyer to pay for seller’s title insurance and often tried to get the buyer to pay for the village transfer tax. I find that they don’t do this much anymore. FNMA will not provide a survey and never has. They now always pay for title insurance and usually pay for the state, county and municipal transfer tax. I always confirm that they will pay for these in my attorney approval letter.

5. Penalties for closing late. The addendum has some wicked penalties for closing late. Generally, the reason one would close late is because the mortgage approval is delayed. As long as the mortgage contingency extension has been requested there will not be any penalties. Recently, I have not had any client pay a closing delay fee, so FNMA seems to have lightened up. FNMA attorneys often randomly say “the house is going back on the market if you don’t close by Friday.”   All extensions, whether for the closing date or the mortgage contingency, have to be signed by the Buyer and have to be on the FNMA form. This is annoying, but it’s just how it’s done.

6. Keys at closing. FNMA homes supposedly are all “keyed” the same with one master key. So the addendum said that no keys will be given at closing and a few times the listing agent demanded back all keys at closing. The poor buyer closed on the home and couldn’t get in without calling a locksmith. Now they are supposed to charge a $120.00 re-key fee to the buyer, but they do furnish a key at the closing.

7. Other issues.

-Like most REO closings, no seller’s representative attends closing and it can still take up to 48 hours to get the seller to sign the closing statement. The buyer cannot move in until the seller signs the closing statement. This is pretty obnoxious, but lately the seller has been signing the closing statement within a few hours of closing.

-Be sure to check the water bill because it is often missed and should be paid in full by FNMA at closing.

-If you are buying a condo from FNMA, be sure to ask them to pay the 6 months dues from the prior foreclosed owner. Even though this can be passed to the buyer under Illinois law, FNMA will usually pay it. It often takes up until the closing date to resolve this issue. Don’t give up on it.

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Related posts:

  1. The Quirks of Buying a Fannie Mae Foreclosure
  2. So you want to buy a foreclosure?
  3. Short sale vs. foreclosure
  4. One less quirk to buying a Fannie Mae foreclosure
  5. Drama queen: The mortgage contingency clause

7 thoughts on “Update: Quirks of buying FNMA foreclosure

  1. We are in process of getting one of these foreclosed homes – my problem is that we want to close early and we cannot get FNMA to get back to Codellis (their attorney). We’ve been waiting 2 weeks now for a response – everything lined up with all the t’s crossed. But no response. What gives? Don’t they want to dump the property and move on?

  2. Jimmy,

    The best way to get the closing scheduled is to email the file processor. I have many closings with them and they do a good job for the most part.

    They are usually happy to close early unless they are waiting for a condo paid assessment letter. I’ve closed those in as little as two to three weeks from contract signing.

    Best of luck,

    Tom

  3. That is correct – asked our attorney – and indeed they are waiting for 2 items – paid assessment letter as it is a townhome and a water certification.

  4. I am purchasing from FNMA right now as well. The house needs some work, but we had it inspected and decided we could do the repairs and for the price, we were happy to. Now they have extended our close date from April 20 to May 31 for “repairs that are in process”. We already signed for the home “as is”. I’ve alwayds heard they make NO REPAIRS and the contract we signed said any requested repairs will be added to purchase price. Any clue what is going on? I’ve asked my realtor but haven’t heard back yet.

  5. Janna,

    On FNMA foreclosure buys the listing agent is in charge of all repairs. Ask your agent get in touch with the listing agent to find out what’s being fixed.

    Usually it is a water-related repair like broken pipes or bad water heater.

    Best of luck.

    Tom

  6. My husband and I put 1,000.00 down on a house located at 501 N. Arcade in Gladwin Michigan on Oct.10, 2011. Every since that day, we have continually been sent Addendums (which we promptly sign and send back) These addendums are to confirm that we still want the home, and agree with the banks delay in closing. We’ve been told that this house has been put on “Hold” by the Michigan Board of Realtors due to Fannie Mae. The house was listed for only 3 days when we made an offer of $24000.00 cash, our offer was accepted. I happen to get on the Zillo Website a few weeks later, only to find our house listed as $66000.00. Yesterday, the For Sale sign was removed, and according to the realtor any sales on this home have been stopped. We have been given so many different stories regarding the delay in closing that I don’t feel I can trust this company. Please explain what REALLY is going on with our home.

  7. Hi, I only practice in Illinois. You should talk to a MI attorney. If the contract is still in effect, then you still have the right to buy it.
    Your attorney will try to convince the seller to close. Sometimes he or she has to threaten to record the contract against the house or to file a lawsuit for specific performance.
    The listing agent is the key contact person on FNMA foreclosure sale and he or she is the only who know the real story. Best of luck. Tom

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