Foreclosures and Houses with Multiple Mortgages

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by Amy Nutt

Buying a foreclosure is a bargain, right? If you have been looking for a house for a while, you may have thought of this as an option to get more for your money. With Canadian mortgage rates at all time lows, many people are turning away from a Toronto refinance in exchange for selling their existing home and then buying a new one at the new, lower interest rate. With the abundance of foreclosures on the market, many buyers are considering looking at these properties in an attempt to get a bargain. Foreclosures can be bargain-priced, but what many buyers do not know is that they may end up paying more than the property is worth because it has more than one loan on it.

The Distressed Homeowner

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Foreclosures come from distressed homeowners. Something, whether it be unexpected medical expenses or the loss of a job, made it impossible for the homeowner to continue paying his bills. As a result, the loan goes into default and the home is foreclosed on.

However, most homeowners will only stop paying their mortgage as a last resort. They usually try to find some other way to deal with their financial crisis. Sometimes, if they view their problems as temporary, they will choose to take out a second mortgage to pay some impending bill. It is not uncommon for a foreclosed property to have two or three mortgages or liens on in, and this can create a problem for buyers.

How Mortgages Are Paid in Foreclosure

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Each province has its own laws about how sales of foreclosed properties will occur, but once the money is received from the new buyer, the liens against the property are paid in a similar fashion. First, any back taxes will be paid. Then, the primary mortgage will be paid. If there are any other mortgages, they will be paid third. There is often not enough money from the sale of the property to pay all debts, so some creditors are left with nothing.

What Happens to the Unpaid Debts?

The unpaid debts do not follow the property. Rather, they follow the buyer. However, on these properties, it is important to do a title search to make sure there are not any liens that are not properly cared for after the sale of the home. The buyer is responsible for paying the leftover loans, and the lenders cannot hold the property as security for the loan after the foreclosure sale.

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How Multiple Mortgages Affects Foreclosure Buyers

Foreclosing on the first mortgage cancels the other mortgages as far as the new homeowners responsibility. However, the price of the property could be inflated to accommodate for the other mortgages, especially if they are with the same bank. If the home goes to auction, the starting price may be inflated, depending on the foreclosure laws in the province. If the property is bought before auction with a traditional purchase, the asking price may be inflated. This can make the property less of a bargain than the buyer might assume.

How can you combat this if you are trying to take advantage of the low Canadian mortgage rates and numerous foreclosures on the market? First, do a title search on any property you are considering, and always purchase title insurance when buying a foreclosure. Then, be sure to have an appraisal done on the property to determine whether or not the asking price is, in fact, a bargain. If it is, do not be afraid of the second mortgages, as they will not be your responsibility. Take advantage of the low Toronto mortgage rates, get your Canada mortgage pre-approval, and put your bid in for your new home.

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