Why Buying a Foreclosed House on the Cheap Is Harder Than You Think

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The truth is that there are a lot more buyers and a lot fewer homes on the market than you’d expect.

The WSJ reports that bidding wars are common on foreclosed properties in desirable places like Orange County, California. And even in cities like Las Vegas, where the assumption is that there’s a glut of properties, bidders are out in full force, and true bargains are hard to come by.

More than 50 people show up at daily auctions in downtown Vegas. That’s about three times the number of prospective buyers making appearances last year. One investor says that the deals to be had aren’t nearly the slam dunks that they were last summer:

At so-called trustee sales of homes in foreclosure cases, he could win with bids at around 70% of the estimated market value. Now, he says, with more bidders, homes are likely to go for 85% to 90% of resale value. After accounting for real-estate commissions, repairs and other costs, that leaves little margin for error.

By no means is this a game for amateurs.

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