Dear Real Estate Adviser,
I lost my house to the bank through a judicial foreclosure. The bank then sold the house in another auction. There, it was bought by a company that flips houses. If I could pay for it, do I have the right in the state of Florida to repurchase it?
You’ve already lost whatever slim chance you had to regain ownership of the house through a legal process called the “statutory right of redemption,” I’m sorry to say.
In many states where there are judicial foreclosures (lender files a lawsuit), redemption laws allow the old foreclosed owner to buy back the property within a post-foreclosure period that’s as short as 10 days in New Jersey and as long as 2 years in Tennessee, with a 1-year redemption period the most prevalent.
In redemption cases, the cost of re-buying usually includes the foreclosure sale price plus sundry charges and fees. You don’t have that opportunity in Florida, unfortunately, which has no official redemption extension. After the foreclosure auction there, you would have had only until the certificate of sale was filed by the court clerk — usually no more than a day — to buy it back, so don’t kick yourself.
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A buy-back program for FHA borrowers
There is a 2-year-old program offered by mortgage finance giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that allows FHA borrowers who’ve been foreclosed upon to repurchase their homes, though at market value. But it is geared more at people whose foreclosed homes were “underwater” due to a value loss sustained by economic conditions. It isn’t used much these days because of the generally robust housing-value recovery.
Even with an opportunity to re-buy, such homes rarely get reacquired because the old foreclosed owners still have damaged credit to contend with and lenders typically won’t take a chance on them. Barring a family loan, inherited money or some other kind of windfall, people who lose their homes this way generally can’t afford to buy them back. (For more Florida foreclosure information, try NOLO’s Florida Foreclosure Law Center.)
An option outside of right of redemption
If you do happen to have the cash, or at least a sufficient lump sum to re-buy the house, you can, of course, deal directly with the home flipper who bought and rehabbed the house; as a for-sale property, anyone can purchase it. A relative could also buy it for you and work out a payment deal with you. Buyers can’t have such cozy family connections in a short sale purchase, but it doesn’t matter in a market-rate transaction.
If you are somehow able to buy from the house flippers, ask what work they did to the house and check with the city to make sure it was properly permitted, then have the place reappraised.
Good luck in getting back your old home!
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