On Spring Break with the extended family, I had the opportunity to participate in a rousing game of Monopoly—modern-day Monopoly being that we played on an iPad instead of pulling out the old board game with the metal pieces.
One of the kids that participated will obviously be the next real estate tycoon because he had all the money and was making all of the smart real estate purchases. It got me to thinkin’. What if purchasing property was really as easy as throwing a little bit of money at a banker and then getting Park Place or Boardwalk in return?
Nothing is nearly that easy these days—even for cash buyers. Cash buyers interested in short sales still have to jump through hoop after hoop and wait patiently for that short sale approval letter. Sometimes buyers of short sales even have to throw in additional cash in order to settle some of the seller’s other debts—taxes, abstracts of judgment, homeowner’s association liens, etc. Also, sellers can back out at the last minute and explore loan modification, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, and even bankruptcy: creating additional buyer frustration for sure. So, as you can see, real estate transactions as simple as anything Hasbro has created are really few and far between.
Many investor buyers prefer to pick up REOs (bank-owned properties). Suddenly, that’s not too easy anymore either. With the myriad of title issues and paperwork problems associated with the bank’s acquisition of their own properties once again has come a shadow inventory of foreclosures that grows and grows. Just a few weeks ago 60 Minutes featured a story that puts this whole foreclosure debacle into layman’s terms. It’s pretty scary, and this kind of stuff has been creeping more and more into our local markets. I’ve seen properties listed on the MLS with confidential agent remarks stating that the bank is in progress of clearing the title, and I have had REO closing dates postponed midstream because the bank is dealing with some ‘internal issues.’
So, you have to wonder, would it be better if our real estate market was as simple and clear-cut as the rules of a Monopoly game? While it sounds like it would be lots of fun to be a big real estate tycoon picking up properties every time the dice are rolled, you’ve gotta wonder if the tycoons are running into the same challenges that main street buyers and sellers see everyday.
Photo: flickr creative commons by mike_fleming