Foreclosure After a Land Contract Deal

You can often catch me saying in my videos or read in my columns, that you should hire a professional in Real Estate transactions. Obviously, REALTORS® welcome your business, but I have a sincere motivation when I say this because I’ve seen terrible scenarios result after folks enter transactions alone. Yes, some deals are fine…others however turn out to be disasters. Let me tell you a story.

When I started out in Real Estate in Jackson County WV, I listed quite a few foreclosed properties to launch my business. In one case, I was contacted by a major bank in North Carolina who needed to sell a particular property in my county. A law firm in Huntington was hired by the bank but at the time I was sent to the property, unbeknownst to me, they had not yet informed the occupants they were being evicted. So, both the family and I were caught off guard that day when I arrived. I thought they already knew.

Well, the wife was shocked at this news. She and her family lived there for roughly four years, and she showed me her meticulous record of payments. She was organized and produced this record on the spot without me even asking. I learned that they acquired the home through a Land Contract with the seller, who moved out of state. A Land Contract is a “Rent to Own” deal…which in my opinion can be risky for either buyer or seller. Anyway, what the buyers didn’t realize was the seller still had a mortgage with the bank, but eventually stopped paying, even though he was receiving payments from this Land Contract. As a result of not receiving payments, the bank foreclosed. Not only had the family been making their payments, but they had even made some improvements. They honestly thought this was their home.

Sadly, the law firm followed through with an eviction process and the bank then had me sell the property to a new buyer. I felt so badly for this family but there wasn’t anything I could do outside of giving advice on how to move forward. The family saved a commission by not hiring a professional to represent them, but as you can imagine, they seriously regretted that decision. Not only did they lose their home, but they lost the money paid to the seller. In the end, that money turned out to be rent. They lost any equity they thought they had, the cost of some improvements, but beyond that, they lost a piece of themselves due to the emotional loss and they took on enormous stress!

I’m not claiming every REALTOR®, Loan Officer, Inspector, Appraiser or Attorney is a top-notch professional. There are good and bad in any profession so when you’re in need of professional guidance, interview a few or several REALTORS®. Ask them good questions to find out if they are thorough and have your best interests at heart. Make sure they have a network of other professionals to assist you.

Brian McCommon, 2024 MBOR President