The time between when I first saw my future house (from the outside only) to the time the final bid had to be placed through the online auction at gohoming.com was approximately five hours. Five hours does not give a girl a lot of time to do her due diligence regarding the company selling the home, and resulted in a lot of sleepless nights of googling variations of “is gohoming.com a scam?” and “has anyone successfully bought a house through gohoming.com?” after I’d won’t the high bid.
And there wasn’t a great answer, at least not for timed-bids, which is how I won The Liberty House.
So let’s start with the basics. It’s not a scam… it’s a legitimate business, but there’s some risk involved in the auction process, and it’s also a giant pain in the ass. In my case, it was well worth the pain to end up with my dream house, but I think it’s important to go into the process with realistic expectations of the time, due-diligence, paperwork, and risk that goes into buying a property through this company. (Or really, any foreclosure or auction property.)
From what I can tell the “parent” company Altisource Portfolio Solutions (ASPS) goes around and buys up bank-owned properties around the US. Those properties are then listed on one of their sites (altisourcehomes.com or gohoming.com). When the properties are sold, they are filtered through a Sellers Agent (who is probably out-of-state) and they also own a title company, Premium Title, for closing (which is also probably out-of-state, unless you’re in Atlanta, GA.) Also: see my note below about using your own title company, which I strongly recommend.
Here’s a list of the related companies:
- AltisourceHomes: National brokerage for the listing and sale of REO properties.
- GoHoming: Online real estate marketplace utilizing both timed and untimed bidding to sell REO properties.
- Lenders One: National alliance of mortgage bankers, correspondent lenders and suppliers of mortgage services.
- Nationwide Credit, Inc.: Asset recovery and customer relationship management solutions.
- REALRemit: Patented electronic invoicing and payment system that maximizes efficiencies and optimizes cash flow.
- Premium Title: Distinguishes itself through responsiveness, convenience and superior service delivery.
What you need to understand is that this is a legitimate business model in the sense that you can actually purchase a house through them. There have been some reviews/complaints online about possible fake bids, etc. I can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that I chose to “autobid” by setting a high limit, and the final bid I won with was $15,000 less than my high limit. If they were scamming I think they might have tried to drive it up higher.
Regardless, when you bid on and purchase a house through this company, it’s a largely automated process. It means if you’re a first-time home-buyer you need to be really familiar with how the home-buying process works, because (despite being assigned a “transaction coordinator”) there’s no one to ask questions to or to guide you through the process. My advice is to know the process, and don’t trust that anyone (Realtors, loan officers, title company agents, or transaction coordinators) knows what they are talking about. In more than one instance in my experience if I had just blindly listened to the transaction coordinator, it would have been a mess, and everyone else who worked with me– while they were all great– were very up-front about the fact that this process was different from most other property transactions.
That being said, in the end I did end up with a house. I paid a bit more in fees than I would have with a traditional sale or REO sale, but I also got the house for significantly less than its appraised value. And all it cost me was lot of work, due-diligence, sleepless nights, and seventeen new gray hairs.
As far as I can tell it works like this: A house is listed for a very short dollar amount for a very short period of time. You can probably take a look at the house before you bid on it (and wouldn’t that be a good idea?) but you have to catch it quick. I found my house on Zillow the last day of the bid and wasn’t able to take a look inside beforehand, but I did make a rule that I wouldn’t bid any higher than I thought the value of land and outbuildings was worth, just in case the house was crap and needed to be torn down.
Even though I’m a staunch DIYer, you should have your own Realtor for this. If you can find one that has gone through the process with Altisource or GoHoming.com before, even better. My house had a lock-box on it and my realtor was able to get the code off the MLS so that we could do a walk-through. In this case it was after I won the bid on the house, but you know, I like to live on the edge.
There are two different ways houses are listed on the GoHoming.com site. A timed bit is basically like the eBay of house-buying. A time limit is set along with a reserve, and you can bid up until the time limit, or within 15 minutes of the last bid after the time limit has ended.
- Registering – Registering was quick and easy, and they didn’t ask for any crazy information like a credit card number, and they don’t spam you with any emails or offers after the fact.
- Bidding – You can either manually bid or set the system to auto-bid (which means if anyone out-bids you the system will automatically increase the increments by $1000 over the highest bid until your high limit is hit.) There are two nice things about auto-bidding. One of them is that when it came close to the end of the bid time on my house, the website kept stalling and I would get an error on the page that wouldn’t let me get in and bid, which put my blood pressure through the roof. The other thing is that there are 3 screens worth of info you have to fill out each time you bid, but if you auto-bid you only have to do it once. When you are outbid the system does send you an email, but when it gets down to the wire those emails don’t come fast enough.
- Bidding information– When you place a bid the system asks you to fill out information that will later be used to populate the purchase agreement (if you win.) This information includes whether or not you want to use their title company (don’t), if you plan to finance the property, etc. Don’t just choose anything to fill in the blank here because if you win and it becomes part of the Purchase Agreement, you’re locked into the terms.
- Winning (or Losing) – The auction doesn’t actually close at the designated time unless there has been a 15 minute period without any new bids. This lasted an extra hour for me and was incredibly nerve-wracking. So be prepared. If you win, you’ll be sent the Purchase agreement in an email within 30-40 minutes.
The Purchase Agreement
The purchase agreement is basically a form agreement that refers back to an information page (page 2) that has all of the options set by the “seller” or by you through the bidding process. There are also a lot of fun clauses that absolve the seller of basically anything that could go wrong in the closing process.
Some of the highlights:
- Deadlines – The Purchase Agreement must be signed within 48 hours. We heard from the sellers agent that because the process is automated, if you don’t get your paperwork back in on time, the house will automatically go back “on the market” in another auction and you’ll lose your bid. Luckily you won’t have signed the contract or sent in the earnest money deposit, so you probably won’t lose any money either.
- No Loan Contingency – Be prepared to pay cash, or lose your deposit (5% of purchase price) in the event that you can’t secure a loan, and let me tell you this… It is very difficult to secure a loan for a previously bank-owned property, especially within 30 days of having a signed purchase agreement. I did it, but I got lucky on the shape the house was in and I still had to clear a lot of red tape.
- Closing Date – The purchase agreement will specify a “must close by” date. If you don’t close by that date because of something on your end, they will charge you a $300 fee for missing the closing date, plus $150 per day for every day until you close. If you don’t close on that date and it’s their fault you don’t have to pay anything, but neither do they.
- Earnest Money – 5% of the purchase price must be put down as a deposit (in the form of a cashier’s check) when the Purchase Agreement is signed. This check should be made out to the title company you are using (either theirs or your own). Again, I recommend using your own local title agency for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I did read some reviews that said it was difficult to get the deposit back from the GoHoming title agency (Premium Title) when a deal fell through. Also, in my case I had to escrow some additional money for updates to the house (courtesy of the bank and appraiser) and I would only want to do that with a local company.
- Liability – The clause that probably gave me the most anxiety was the part that said basically, “You’re agreeing to pay this price and if something happens to the house (like someone breaks in and steals all the copper pipes) between now and closing, sorry! Not our problem.” And the day after I signed that I went to the house and someone had been inside and left their work gloves and flashlight in there. Not to mention the siding and copper pipe that had been clearly torn off of the garage and propane tank. I asked the Sellers agent if there was any way to “protect” the property until closing–either by changing the lock box code, not allowing other agents on the property, etc.–which they would not agree to (and why would they as it was my ass on the line, right?). They did let us put a “sold” sign in the yard prior to closing, however. Above and beyond that, let’s just say I’m resourceful and found ways to make sure the house was protected prior to closing, and I’m sure that if I hadn’t done that I would have found a lot less copper plumbing in here by the time I moved in.
I’m not even remotely an expert on securing a home loan and the process is so convoluted that even in my limited experience I could write volumes about it. If you’re not crazy and haven’t bought 3 houses in 7 years (or haven’t bought one since the bubble burst and all the banks stopped having the freedom to use common sense when giving out home loans) here are some things you should know. The general process works (or should work) like this:
- Pre-approval – You can usually do this online. It definitely requires a credit check and information on your salary, banking history, financial stability, etc.
- Starting the Approval Process – You can’t start the actual approval process until you have a signed purchase agreement. Once you do you may need some additional documentation (for me it was complete tax returns). As part of this process you’ll be asked to sign a ton of different disclosure documents, one of which is a Truth in Lending Statement. Pay close attention to this one because if they screw it up (and my bank did by not reading the Purchase Agreement thoroughly enough and failing to include the Title Transfer Tax amount) and you don’t find out until the last minute, it could potentially push your closing back. And if you’re down to the wire, that– in turn– can cause closing delay fees with the seller.
- Appraisal– The property will need to be appraised, and there are a host of things that can go wrong at this stage in the process. The value of the house may not be high enough to get approval for the loan amount you need, there may not be enough “comps” (sales of comparable value in the area) to get a good estimate from, you may need an additional appraisal, etc. You may also need to factor in (as I did) paying to have the house dewinterized and rewinterized because all major utilities will need to be on for the appraisal to go through. I’ve had issues with appraisal on every single purchase or sale of a piece of property in the last three years, and frankly, even though I bought The Liberty house for significantly under the appraised value and put another big chunk of change down on the loan, it’s still a small miracle that this all worked out.
- Approval by Underwriting – Once the bank has all of your paperwork and the appraisal (which will usually make it to the bank within three business days of the walk-through) an underwriter basically gives the yay or nay on the loan. I actually had to provide more documentation, and a letter stating I was a licensed contractor and had the funds to make some additional small repairs to the house (which they then made me escrow the cash for) before they would approve the loan.
Closing the Sale
The 30 days between signing the purchase agreement and the closing date felt alternately like an eternity or not nearly enough time, depending on whether I was trying to defend the house from looters or cut through all the underwriting red tape. Here are a couple of things you should know:
- Check, re-check, and check again on all of the things that will need to be complete before you can close. 30 days is not a lot of time to get all of these things done. In my case it included checking to make sure the title was free and clear of liens and back-taxes (it was not, which meant another week of paperwork), getting a well and septic inspection that was required by my county, and, of course, getting all of the loan paperwork in. I made sure all of this was in the works the day after I signed the purchase agreement, and some of it was still being finalized an hour before closing.
- About working with GoHoming specifically, the paperwork needs to be in to them 48 hours before closing. My loan officer didn’t do this, which means I was sitting in the closing office with nothing to sign, had some last minute changes, and then had to go back the next day to re-sign everything. So make sure everyone knows when the paperwork should be where and that they actually get it in on time.
Hidden Costs of Buying At Auction
When you purchase a house “traditionally” (as in, not a bank-owned or auction house) there may be some items that are the sellers responsibility, such as a septic inspection or paying the transfer tax on the title. When you buy a house through GoHoming.com, it is all your responsibility. Here are some of the costs I incurred in this process above and beyond what I would typically expect when purchasing property (ie Home Inspection, Loan Application Fees, closing costs, etc):
- Using my own Title Company: $1200 (Worth. Every. Penny.)
- Well & Septic Inspection: $1500 (Included pumping out the septic since there was no permit on file for the property)
- Dewinterizing & Re-winterization: $1000 (Yeah. Still salty about this.)
- Title Transfer Tax: $800
A Little More About My Experience
While buying The Liberty House certainly wasn’t a whim (I knew for almost a year I’d be buying or building something eventually) it also happened, uh, swiftly, and I wasn’t quite mentally or physically prepared for it. Putting 5% cash down on the house with the very real possibility of losing it, along with the general anxiety of working with a Transaction Coordinator in India (who did not inspire confidence by repeatedly referring to me as “Stanley”, which is clearly not my name), and dealing with this company that I couldn’t find much information on, and a loan officer who had a slightly different definition of the term “responsive” than I did… well, let’s just say for the month of February I averaged about two hours of sleep per night.
In all those hours I wasn’t sleeping I was obsessively re-reading the purchase agreement, alternately calling the bank, my realtor, or the title company, and sticking pins into a little voodoo doll I may or may not have made of the appraiser.
It was not an easy month. There are so many places that things could have gone wrong (or simply gone unnoticed until it was too late) that I still have a sense of awe– and not a small amount of post-traumatic anxiety– that everything worked out in the end. Even with all of the bumps I went through in the process, the seller’s attorney actually commented to the agent at the title company that off the dozen sales she was processing at the moment, mine was the one that was going “smoothly”.
So would I do it again? For the Liberty House… in a heartbeat. For anything else, I’m not sure it would be worth it. What I hope is that by telling the story of my experience and sharing what I learned that someone else will be able to make the best decision about their own future home.
If you have any specific questions I can answer, leave them in the comments or send me an email. I’m always happy to help someone else find their home!
That sounds like quite an experience. I can see why you only got a few hours of sleep a night. It’s also makes all those cryptic posts from a month ago make a lot more sense. I’m glad it worked out for you in the end. What’s a month of hell in exchange for your dream home?
I hope you know that someday, if we ever meet, I’m going to be asking you about whatever creative and threatening tactics you employed to keep copper thieves away.
Very brave, and a great and interesting overview. I don’t think I could do what you did after reading this… an ulcer is already forming at the idea.
She might have had an accomplise with her! Shhhhh!
I’m imagining camouflage-wearing pole barn campouts with ammo beneath the pillow. Or at least a stun gun?
There was live ammo and definitely some B&E. That’s all I’m going to say about that. lol
a dog is usually the best way to deal with thieves.
good review of the process, sounds like a PITA. why was going with your own title company so worth it?
The neighbor has five St. Bernards… unfortunately I don’t think they would have distinguished between me and an actual thief at that point. 😉
As for the title company, there were a couple of things:
1.) The title wasn’t actually “clear” even though the seller’s company said it was, so that was something that could have held up closing or thwarted the sale altogether if it wasn’t noticed until later. Luckily my title company did their due-diligence in checking early on, so it was taken care of, but their company probably would not have.
2.) If the deal didn’t go through, I read horror stories about “lost” deposits and people not getting their money back, which in my case would have been $7,000. That’s a lot of money to just send off to some random company five states away, (especially before I really knew if this was a legitimate business). By working with a local company I knew at least my money was going to a legitimate business that I could walk in to and talk to a person, if necessary.
3.) For the sale to go through, I had to escrow money with the title agency to have a fuel tank moved and for “repairs” to the house noted in the appraisal. That came to $8,000, which the title company still has and won’t be able to release until the work is done and I have letters from the county, appraiser, and bank. Again, I just feel more comfortable that that money is with a local company who has met me. I can personally go drop that paperwork off and pick up a check when the time comes.
Since things did go through with the house, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I’d used their company, but I don’t feel like I would have had someone “in my corner” so to speak, with all of the money changing hands and closing details. I still maintain it was the best $1200 I spent in this process, just for the peace of mind!
We didn’t know we had the choice of using our own title company or else we definitely would have. We couldn’t get a straight answer from Altisource or their affiliate title company about what the delays were. Thankfully our realtor knew someone at the sheriff’s office who deals with title transfers and they were able to tell us it was a clean title. That was great to know but we were back to wondering why the heck Altisource couldn’t get their act in gear.
Thanks so much for the information. Very helpful as we are also going through the process of buying our dream home from Altisource. We are first time home buyers so we are very nervous about everything and dealing with Altisourse worsen the situation even more. We didn’t choose our own title company (didn’t know there was an option)and now we are waiting for them to provide either (a) title binder or (b) title opinion. It says in the P&S agreement that within in 7 days seller will order that from title provider and It has been a week since they sent back the signed contract. Did it take you long to get the preliminary title report form them? I am not sure if we can trust their title company on whether the title is clean or not. Like in your case they said it was clear but in fact it was not. How can we make sure?Is there anything we can do to make sure? Thanks so much!!
I too would like to know how you foiled the copper thieves 🙂
I’ve had a few clients buy houses this way and it is a serious nightmare – if I was to ever do this the first thing I’d do would be get a really savvy real estate attorney to help you (and threaten when necessary). Full Disclosure – I work in Real Estate law and have an MS in Real Estate, so I’m a huge advocate of lawyers (although I;m not one). Even I wouldn’t try this without an attorney so you are one very brave, very smart young lady to have navigated this and had a successful result.
I’ve bought/sold two houses in my life, neither with a real estate agent.
Once I went it alone and once I had an excellent real estate attorney. Both ways were far cheaper than with an agent. I don’t actually know why people have real estate agents any more.
The attorney was worth her weight in gold when trouble happened. As I recall her fee was about $2000. I hired her because California had gone nuts with required disclosures in the decades between the house purchases. (Is there any wildlife within x feet of your home? Why yes, I believe I saw a squirrel the other day.) The paperwork was literally inches thick, compared to 2-5 pages for the first purchase.
Karen, why would you not use a licensed Realtor to help you with the vast paperwork of purchasing a home, the seller pays the Realtor’s commission, not you. Are you sure you’ve done this before?
Yes, the Realtor gets paid by the seller, but that means that the price of the house is higher to accommodate that commission. I personally know people who have negotiated lower prices because of choosing to use a lawyer rather than a Realtor to complete the transaction.
I just read your post about the seller pricing their home to encompass the real estate commission. While I can appreciate your perception, this is absolutely not the case. The home is priced as per the current market value and the commission is paid by the seller as their cost of doing business. This is a wide spread misperception that the home is priced and that price includes the seller’s commisison fee. No realtor would ever list a home that includes the commission cost. For example, let’s say I am about to list a $100,000 home. The seller agrees to pay the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent a total of 6% (split between buyer/seller agents.) If the current market comps show the home is worth $100,000 but we list it for $106,000 (which would include the commission) NO ONE would buy it for that price because it is over market comps. Sorry to disagree with you, but I’ve been in the business for years and the seller’s fees (commission included) are never tacked on to arrive at the listing price. with kind regards; Tom Schoenbeck, Keller Williams Realty, Rehoboth Beach DE. http://www.delhomefinder.com
I didn’t use a Realtor on my first two house purchases or sales, and I think it comes down to how comfortable you are with the process and how much time you want to spend diving into it. For those houses, I don’t feel like it would have added value for me, but with an auction house in a new county it was great to have the support of someone who– at the very least– had contacts with a title agency in the area and knew the local regs.
I really think it’s a personal choice, but I do love the suggestion to enlist a real estate attorney if you go it alone or are in a tricky situation like a foreclosure or auction purchase.
From the minute I saw the house I was hooked. Totally addicted. Having bought, sold, and fixed up many a house (including a couple of foreclosures), you had me on the edge of my seat with every post. Ah, to be young and full of so much enthusiasm and determination again. All I can say is congratualtions again and on to making it home!
And we all can’t wait for the donkeys to arrive of course!
Thank you! I was hooked too, and I feel so incredibly lucky every time I come home to this place.
Interesting reading to say the least. If you haven’t named your place yet you may want to consider something like “Destiny Acres” considering what you went through and apparently were meant to have. ;0)All things past led to this future. When people say all it takes is “hard work” what they actually mean is good stress management, good use of support systems, and good luck! Seems you employed all three. Hope you are planning your housewarming…mmmm around Thanksgiving? What a great day to share the memories and the (most likely pretty well finished) house with family and friends (and of course all of your blog followers!). Can’t wait to see it all decked out!
Hopefully sooner that that! I’m shooting for 4th of July.
This certainly made all the previous posts of going through this fit together like a puzzle. Thank you for tying it all together. No doubt you had a few of God’s angels pushing this through! Hope the PTS resolves with some chocolate & beverage 🙂
I am shocked after reading this that you only got 17 new gray hairs and didn’t wake up one morning with a Cruella deVille do. You are smart, tenacious and gutsy and you deserve the rewards of securing your dream house! Thanks, as always, for sharing.
Thanks for sharing your story. I’m not sure if I could have done this myself. We just bought our forever house, and it wasn’t an auction or a foreclosure, but there were numerous liens and a very murky title. The stress in dealing with that and getting it clear (right up to the 11th hour, just like you) were more than enough for me. Well done on making it through and getting the house of your dreams. Now on to making it the home of your dreams. 🙂
Congrats on your home Julia! I don’t think it’s ever an “easy” process, but I believe the end result is always worth it.
You are a seriously brave woman – what a crazy roller coaster!! Jeez, I think the stress would have turned me into a raving lunatic!
One of my friends actually had to sit me down for a “We’ve never seen you this crazy before, so after this no more buying houses at auction” intervention. lol. It wasn’t a pretty 6 weeks but it made me eternally grateful for my support network of friends, blog-friends, and family!
When it comes down to it houses and stuff are just that – STUFF. My home is SO important to me. But friends and family that support and nurture you are what get us through life. I have learned that up close and personal the last few years.
Thanks for sharing, many times over. [;>) I, for one, don’t want to EVER end up on the wrong end of your voodoo pins! Your drive and tenacity have enabled a great following (all of us’ns) to share in the success of your acquisition, and that, dear girl, is one helluva definition of “Liberty” if ever there was one! You may not be a “believer”, but I pray that God will continue to watch over and guide you! Deepest and most profound thanks, again!
She’s got a praying mom! Thank you for yours!
Glad to help.
Im trying to buy a place through altisource. I took your advise on choosing my title company but they want to change companies. How do you insist on your own title company with them? Altisource seems like bullies and I want to keep my own title. Ay suggestions?
Im trying to buy a place through altisource. I took your advice on choosing my title company but they want to change companies. How do you insist on your own title company with them?
Altisource seems like bullies and I want to keep my own title. Any suggestions?
Hey Claudia – I sent you an email with a little more about my experience changing to my own title company with GoHoming. Hope it helps!
I love Kit’s Mom. 🙂
We’re experiencing our own lending nightmare right now. Closing is set for May 2. The seller is out April 24 and would like to close early. Our lender has just informed us that the underwriters have rejected the appraisal (done before we converted to an FHA loan due to a hitch on the first loan thanks to the lender missing an acreage restriction). So, the appraisal needs to be redone, everything resubmitted to the underwriters. Not even sure we will close on the original date. What a living nightmare. You want to voodoo stick the appraiser doll. We want to voodoo stick the lender. Last time we’ll ever go through a big bank ever again.
It is so incredibly frustrating, and while I understand the need for tighter regulations, I also would hope for a dose of common sense as well. Fingers crossed yours works out!
Thanks for the informative post. You got me at the very first item you pointed out – credit card numbers. I am simply afraid of giving them out each and every time a site requires them since crooks can do horrible things to my credit card! Keep up the good work.
I WON A CONTRACT ON A HOUSE AND I HAVE A SIGNED CONTRACT WITH ALTISOURCE. I WIRED THE DEPOSIT 10 DAYS AGO AND EVER SINCE MY BUYERS AGENT CANNOT GET ANYONE FROM THE COMPANY TO RESPOND TO OUR REQUEST FOR AS CLOSING DATE. THERE ARE NO CONTINGENCIES AND ITS A CASH DEAL. I HAVE CALLED THE TITLE COMPANY, PREMIUM TITLE SERVICES AND THEY TELL ME THAT THE TITLE WORK HAS BEEN STARTED. I CALLED THE PHONE # OF THE WEBSITE GOHOMING AND TALKED TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO SAID HE WOULD CALL OUR COORDINATOR AND HAVE HER REPSOND THE SAME DAY. NEVER GOT THE CALL ONLY AN EMAIL SENT TO MY BUYERS AGENT THAT SHE IS WORKING ON IT AND THAT SHE HAD TALKED TO ME EARLIER IN THE DAY WHICH WAS UNTRUE. SO I GUESS MY QUESTION IS CAN I SWITCH TITLE SERVICES TO A COMPANY IN MY TOWN OR WILL THAT VOID MY CONTRACT SINCE IN THE ORIGNAL PAPERWORK I AGREED TO GO WITH THEIR TITLE COMPANY PREMIUM. IF I DO SWITCH WILL IT HELP MOVE THE PROCESS ALONG. THANKS FOR ANDY ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE ME. BOB
Hi Bob – I also originally had their title agency in my contract and they were okay with changing it to a local agency but that was prior to me signing the contract or wiring any money.
Now that money has changed hands I’m not sure how open they would be to changing title agencies (it may actually be more of a hassle since they would have to refund the deposit, and I doubt they’ll do that.)
Like I said, it’s not a scam so much as a lot of channels to go through and not a lot of help or responsiveness. If I were you, at this stage I might enlist the help of a Real Estate lawyer to help apply the necessary pressure!
Did Altisource finally respond and work with your agent to process the house sale? I would love to learn whether you were able to close using their title company for such cash-only transaction, and whether you encountered additional problems.
So much good information, thanks for putting it all out there! I bought my house on a wing and a prayer, apparently. Oh, and a good mortgage agent, so thankful for her.
Did you also use your own titel company? Did you finance and use a mortgage company? If so, are you in Tn by any chance? Thanks, Kathy
Hello, I read your story and was happy when you stated that gohoming.com is not a scam I am trying to buy a house just cash no financing required how difficult do you think it will be and can I still use their title comapany I believe all the inspection process will just be on me since I am not financing so no requirements on me but I was a little skeptical with the $199 web fee and it says $5,000.00 buyers premium to make sure that their were no more hidden fees. Im sorry but Im using my life savings and do not want to make a big mistake. Thank you in advance
If you’re paying cash you won’t need to get an inspection. Personally I would still use my own title company (see the comment above about sending a deposit out to their company and not hearing back from them for two weeks)… it costs a little more but will save you so much stress.
For me there were no other “hidden” charges though gohoming, but you do need to go into the process with a cushion for things like title tax etc.
Thanks so much for sharing this information! I found a property in my area listed by goHoming.com and was considering placing a bid but wanted some honest information about the process. Really enjoyed your post and I’ll let you know if I get the property, it’s a real DIY Diva ranch! 🙂
Love it Marjorie! I hope it works out for you… I won’t tell you it will be easy, but I bet it will be worth it.
I placed a bid on gohoming.com and now it seems like the bidding has changed to say it will close on 4/26/12 and you have one more chance to place your highest best bid. We really love this house! Kind of worried as I am pre-approved for a VA loan, and not sure if the will accept those terms even-thou the house is in great shape. Have anyone heard of anybody using VA as a funding source?
Good for you! We are currently looking to relocate and have found a home on gohoming. We just found it and it goes off tomorrow. We are cash buyers, but have a few questions and were wondering if we could email you. We are okay with risking 5% on this home, but really would like to own it.
thank you so much for your post! I recently won a bid for my dream home at gohoming.com. Earnest money was send out the day after I have won the bid. The seller agent was then suppose to show me the home but she was waiting for the keys to be send to her. That was 4 weeks ago!! I was getting worry that this was a scam… But after reading this posting, it’s just a poorly run company. it’s comforting to know that it’s that it is a “LEGIT” company and that my earnest money have not evaporated.
Hey I, just wanted to say thank you for your blog. I found an investment property that I would like to purchase, and I’ve thought about many of the expenses but the Title transfer fee was new to me. Also, I’m going to make sure to use my own title company now. Thank you again.
We’re in the process of buying a house through Altisource. They make me angry. Very, very, very angry. We’re going on month five of our process, all because of their incompetency and inability to meet a deadline (that they set).
Looking forward to reading your blog!
I’m happy to report (belatedly) that my sister and her family were able to take possession of the house at the end of June. We visited in July and with the exception of some repairs that we hadn’t anticipated based on their previous walk-throughs everything about the house is exactly as I had hoped. Houses in the immediate neighborhood are coming on the market for $30k – $50k more than we spent. While the journey to get this purchase complete was one of the biggest PITA’s we’ve ever dealt with, the emotional and financial benefits are already apparent.
I’m still waiting to close with altisource as well. I’d like to add to your blog and share information. Buying a foreclosure takes a long time. I am still waiting but I knew going into the transaction that it could take months to close.
It’s the price our country is paying for reckless mortgages originating over 10 years ago. There are literally over 100,000 foreclosures. If you expect to get a deal on a house, you have to be patient. Lenders do not have a lot of employees cleaning up this gigantic mess we are experiencing. If you can’t wait to close I suggest buying a regular sale with owners who are current on their loans and not desperate.. Lenders are not in the business of foreclosures and simply do not have the staff and experience to close quickly. Closing a foreclosure is a complicated procedure.
I’ve worked as a paralegal and loan officer for 25 years and understand the process. If buying a foreclosure was fast and easy, everyone would do it and there would be no deals and discounts. I’ve closed on several foreclosures over the years and they take time. Closing dates mean absolutely nothing to altisource and other lenders.
If you are not a buyer who has the time to wait, I suggest taking the stress out of your life and buy a regular home and pay a higher price. I wait every day for Altisource to contact me. I do not bother them because they are swamped and I know my time will come. Deals eventually close but patience is required.
Foreclosures can take 100-300 days to close. Realtors should warn buyers when they buy foreclosures. There are literally thousands of people waiting ahead of you. I hope this information is helpful to some of you.
I’ve purchased 3 foreclosures in the last few years and they have all closed in about a month. I think you’re talking about a short sale aka pre-foreclosure.
I bought my first (and only) house through Altisource. After reading all these stories it makes me so glad I got so lucky! My purchases with them went great. It was fast and easy, but I used a local realtor so maybe he did more heavy lifting than I realized.
Either way, we got our house with no headaches from Altisource (can’t say the same for the finance or title company though).
That’s great to hear Shellie! Congrats on your new house.
I’m bidding on a property through the same company and I’d like to know what your methods were for protecting your property during the whole process. I’ll be financing a good part of the cost if I win, so I’m relying on an appraisal, and I would hate to have someone come in and screw everything up for me.
Any ideas/specific personal experience would be appreciated.
We’re in the middle of trying to close on a house with Altisource and it has been one heck of a mess! So far we are one day past or closing day and they still don’t have all their ducks in order. We’ve been ready for 2 weeks now. Maybe next week we’ll get lucky and close. sigh……
There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
After Altisource messed up our closing twice we finally took possession a week ago!
Foreclosures generally take 150-300 days to close. Do not bid on a property if you can’t handle the wait! Don’t forget, there are 500,000 foreclosures out there and you must wait your turn. Altisource is fine but clearly you will be wait for months.
I’m in my 3rd month of waiting to close. Way past altisource closing date but nothing can be done until they get the deed. Don’t bother harassing them with calls and emails, you just have to wait it out.
In my experience, their title company is very courteous and sends me emails of all their correspondence with Altisource.
If you can’t stand the heat, you need to buy a regular property. Foreclosures take a long time.
Actually if you sit around and don’t keep on them they will work at a snails pace. We, our agent, and our attorney have kept the heat on them and we will not be waiting 3 months to close. The deed is currently enroute to the closing title company because of how we kept at them.
Telling people to just sit around and wait with this company is not sound advice.
Are you using your own Title Company or the free service provided by Altisource?
Theirs unfortunatly. I wasnt aware of how this all worked with this company before our offer was placed and accepted.
Same here. If I had known that was an option I would have used one local to the property. We were strongly encouraged to use theirs, ie I thought it was a requirement.
We finally closed last week, but it was a long and arduous process that required many emails and phone calls from our realtor, our lender, and us. With the time difference of our representative being in India that also caused many more delays than was strictly necessary for this type of transaction.
I’m using the title company Altisource recommended. Altisource agreed to pay my title charges, saving us $1,500.
They are called Fidelity.
Did everyone’s buying agent receive the 3% commission? My agent is dragging his feet because it is not in writing until AFTER a purchase agreement is signed. Ugh.
Yes our agent got their commission. Not sure if this is because we got the house so cheap but our agents commission was actually 9%.
Oh! Maybe there is a difference in commission from state to state? Thanks for your reply. 🙂
We felt so bad for our agent because we thought he was only going to get like $400 from the deal. She put a ton of work in and we were really happy to see that she would be getting 3 times that amount.
That is an awesome commission! Wish our guy was getting that much for all his patience and persistence! Whew. Just got our offer accepted…now for the real headaches, right? HERE WE GOOOOOOO!
Our local agent(s) got a commission but it was smaller than normal. They did a lot of work for not a lot of reward. Which reminds me, we need to send them a gift basket or something.
It must have been a learning experience for everyone involved. Send yourself a gift basket for that one! haha 😉
The buyer’s agent’s commission is stated as part of the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Your agent actually has to sign that page of the contract himself. They offer a flat fee commission to the buyer’s agent which is usually something around $1200.
Thank you very much for sharing! With gohoming.com if the title is not clear and there are some liens for thousands of dollars that are discovered after purchase agreement is signed, does anybody know what would be the process and whether the security deposit is returned? Thanks everyone in advance
We are currently going through the same process i just wanted to ask you in what way were you able to secure the house?
Lots of good information.
In Michigan the Realtors get most listings before they come on the market and then sell them to their cronnies prior to the public getting a chance to see them.
Does it go to auction before the Realtor gets it?
The house is not on the website yet but has a sign in the window and grass 3 feet high. Do I just check the site daily?
Thanks for the help.
Will appreciate any help. On the gohoming website there is a listed house that I really like. GoHoming will sell the house for CASH only, cant see the property, and currently occiped or rented. I called gohoming and I ended up speaking to someone in India .. had no clue about the area. I then tried to call the assigned realtor for details but got VM so I left a message.
I was talking to a realtor in the area and she was saying that if the house is occupied it could be a nighmare to get those people out.
I am a first time home buyer and really like this specific house.
Cheers and will appreciate your advise
My advice to people that do not seem to have a clue how to go about. here is how to do it. If you have an address then do your duty. find the website of the government apraisal and county records. Once you place the information you will know who actually owns the house and who owns the mortgage. Then you can ask directly the bank. Ask for the REO department. Once you let them know the real estate agents is not even returning their calls, they are usaully happy to assist. A couple of times in ten years I actually got a home this way. Obviously gohoming is bad news but if you really like that house then do your dilligence.
I have placed several bids and the funny thing is the same name of bidder shows up. Once I place a limit automatically that amount gets beaten by a thousand dollars but then the price has jumped immediately ten or twenty thousand depending on the limit placed. I wanted to represent myself since I have bought and sold real esatte for 17 years therefore I am happy with my title company closing the purchase. I was informed that I will still have to pay the fee to the selling agent. On top of a massive premium fee that was already about 6^ of the purchase price or estimated price. Whatever savings I was suppose to achieve gets wiped off paying those fees. I do not play games I have contacted the Attorney General of Virginia to look into this company, I asked HUD, the FTC, the FCC because if they are in india there are some issued with the Trade Commission and the Federal Communications. I am not bidding any more and for two months they have 102 properties “under contract” they never close aparently…and why the heck they take bids after the bidding has been won? something fishy we shall find out.
I am thinking of putting an offer on a house using gohoming and would love to speak with you. I have never purchased a home and am working with a realtor. I just am very nervous about the whole situation.
Hi I currently am bidding on a gohoming property in fl. I am using auto bid but reserve has not been met. Do you know if they will automatically bump up to my max price if the reserve is not met but my highest offer meets the reserve? Bidding ends tomorrow. Thanks
Hi Linda. I’ve only had the one experience with them but I don’t think it works that way… I’m guessing the only thing that triggers the bid is if you’re outbid. If the reserve isn’t met then I bet they re-auction
Wow! thank you for this review. Super helpful. I wondered how a property that just went on the market 2 days ago, was listed as under contract already! After doing a little digging, I found that it was listed on gohoming. I’d never heard of the site before, but after visiting, and now reading your review, it all makes much more sense.
I want to purchase a property on Gohoming website. However, it had this on the description. Which got me scared.
NO VIEWINGS of this property. Please DO NOT DISTURB the occupant. “As is” cash only sale with no contingencies or inspections. Buyer will be responsible for obtaining possession of the property upon closing.
1) How can you bid without at least seeing the property inside.
2) If someone lives there, how do you take possession if someone is there currently.
Thanks for any answer or advice.
Sorry I can’t help you out. The property we bought was vacant and my sister and her husband were able to enter with their realtor a couple of times to view the property. Because my brother-in-law has renovated houses for years, we decided not to do a full inspection.
When the property is occupied, no one is supposed to disturb the tenants. However, sometimes, it is not always occupied, although it is advertised as such. Drive by the property. If there is a lockbox on the door and a sign in the yard, it is unoccupied. You will have to call the 800 number but eventually someone will be able to give you a code.
Some buyers that are experienced rehabbers with their team in place do buy those without seeing inside. They drive by, look at the outside (roof? AC? any visible cracks in brick?) and get ready for the inside to be a total gut job.
Great article! Very well explained. I am a realtor in Indianapolis. I was recently contacted by a headhunter looking for an agent for AltiSource, gohoming.com broker in Indiana. They are interviewing me and I have reservations. When I google Altisource everything I see is very negative regarding their reputation. On one hand, I do not want to be affiliated with a “shady” company. On the other hand, like you said, buying a home at auction or from a bank is not easy. So is Altisource that is being “shady”? Or is it the nature of the beast and most consumers just want someone to blame?
***Do not do business with Altisource.*** They are incompetent. If you win a contract through Gohoming or Ocwen, you absolutely need your own closing attorney or closing company. Altisource is not to be trusted – there is too much at risk. You need your own representation to keep them in check.
I got the house I’m living in through gohoming earlier this year. It was indeed troublesome, but I think that that is more to do with ‘easier’ properties getting sold before they end up on go homing. You should expect trouble and be prepared to deal with it.
It is a very nice, modern townhouse in an excellent location in Hillsboro, Oregon. The ‘problems’ were related to siding replacement performed after a lawsuit against the builders. Until the numbers were all in, no bank would lend on the property and we were not motivated to be footing any surprise bills either. It took 4 hours from seeing the property to getting a bid in and having it accepted. It them took 6 months to effect the purchase. The realtor earned her fee by keeping the thing bouncing along for six months while the outstanding bills were settled by the owning bank.
The upside is you’re getting a bargain. It looks like we got this property for about 60k-80k less than it would be in a conventional sale. We had sold our house and were renting in the same neighborhood. It wasn’t as if we were searching for houses on gohoming, we wanted that house and it was for sale through gohoming.
So it certainly can work to buy a house through gohoming, but the nature of the beast is that these properties are unlikely to be straightforward purchases. Make sure you have the money, a place to live (we rented), the credit, the inspectors lined up and a good realtor or lawyer to handle the paperwork while you get on with your life.
Having just closed on a home through gohoming.com (now referred to as hubzu.com), I can totally relate to your story. It seems like an exact replica of what I just dealt with for over 2 months. We thought that everything had been dealt with, however, our title wasn’t clear and we just kept having to file extension after extension. We did not have a realtor experienced in this and we did not have our own title company. It feels as if I waded through this mess all on my own–and your comment about doing everything yourself due to lack of faith in everyone else while your earnest money is in peril is SO TRUE. We were also required to put money into an escrow account in order to complete repairs after closing, which ended up turning into a nightmare. After an epic journey, I can say that we did end up with our dream home, but not until we dredged through a ton of BS. It is reassuring to read the process from someone else’s perspective–so thank you!
I am a “Lucky Winner” of an Ocwen or Hubzu or Altisource, or Premium Title, or…..okay, you get the picture. Our closing date stared out with 11-19. They delayed to 12-13 then 12-19 due to a small problem with the title. Then out of the blue, it got changed to 4-29-2013! My current home was acquired by our local airport and I only had 90 days to find a house, buy it, and move out! A week after they gave us the 4 month delay, they had the issue fixed and demanded we prepare to close immediately. Even then, the closing got delayed again and again. We finally closed last Tuesday, but I still don’t have a deed or the final HUD-1 so I can file a claim with the airport and get the 5 grand they have to pay me to vacate.
If you find a house listed by any of the names on the top of this post, don’t walk away from the deal……RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. These people, all with Middle Eastern names, are as inept as anybody you will ever meet. Somebody needs to report them to the proper authorities. I would, I will, if anyone can tell me who the proper authorities are.
Signed: Mr. Frustrated, Mrs. Angry, and our kids, Stress, Sleepless Nights, High Blood-pressure, and Heart Attack, and my little puppy Aggravated
Im an real estate agent about 3 weeks into a transaction with altisourse.. OMG I swear if I get one more email from these moronic Indians that says “YOU HAVE 3 HOURS” i may have to get on a plane and go to India and have a chat with some folks!! I realize that their culture is a lot different than ours but somebody need to clue these people in that being rude and demanding IS NOT what we consider “excellent customer service” in the United States!!!
In the future I will do my best to steer my clients away from these properties!! It’s just not worth the headache!
Thank you. Your postings have been very helpful. I have been looking at a posting on Hubzu and was concerned with the legitimacy of this website. I actually took a look at a house listed and placed a bid before an auction ended. I was the only one bidding on this house. It said the reserve was not met and then immediately after the auction ended it was relisted at $10,000 higher starting price. If no one was interested and I was the only bid at the earlier auction what makes them think they can increase the minimum bid $10,000 and expect others to bid? I would be very skeptical about their autobid process due to the way their website operates. I am curious how often they will repeat this process??
I was bidding against someone else in a no time limit auction (before they changed their name to Hubzu), and for some reason, the listing was reset about 2 or 3 times when I had bids in. I watched it closely and finally won, but it was long and annoying.
I also doubted the legitimacy of the company, and their process (and still do, to some extent), but they are real, and should rethink their system and build a better reputation. If you find a good deal and are willing to learn their system, put in some work, and put up with the stress, it can be worth it in the end.
I wished I had found a large group of people experienced in dealing with this group of idiots. I may have bailed on the deal and kept looking. But, in the end, I do now own this house and got a tremendous deal. I paid just over $80k for a house that got a very detailed appraisal by an uninterested 3rd party and came in at $122k. With a few updates, this house will be worth the neighborhood average of $145k to $155k. So I got a good deal, but the stress, aggravation, anger, and sleepless nights made this a very difficult buy.
If you have bought several homes and are familiar with all the processes and can deal with very poor communications and are flexible with your closing date, then by all means, “go for it”. If you are not an experienced home buyer, and you have a definite move in date, and have a “Type A” personality like me, I’d take a pass. Buy directly from Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, or a bank.
I’ve been waiting to close for 11 months! No one answers the phones at Altisource. Their emails are always 2 words, “nothing yet”. Very frustrating. I’m ready to throw in the towel. It’s a joke, please send me tips on how you actually got a human being to work with you!
I made a serious threat to sue them and was prepared to back it up. Also, every email you send should have a CC to every name you can find. Go through all your incoming messages and get every email address you can find. Eventually, you might send a strongly worded message to somebody the understands English. DON’T LET UP! BE A COMPLETE PEST.
I actually spoke to people from Premium Title which is Altisource, I think. The email address I got had the Altisource extension.
I don’t have that phone number with me since I am at work. But apparently the offices moved last month to Ventura and it seems that they are getting their act together.
If you would like the contact numbers of the people I spoke to yesterday, please email me at:
I understand your fustration and would like to help.
I closed January 23, 2013, after two short extensions. Since escrow was over the holidays I was not bothered by this.
I also really, really liked how I could Buy-it-Now. After making offers on almost a dozen traditional sales, and being turned down for unknown reasons even though I have great credit and my offer price was over asking, it was so nice to have the opportunity offer the asking price and be accepted.
The contract is fuzzy. I would like to ask everyone what they think about the “technology fee” and “buyer’s premium” that are added to the sales price. My contract states that those fees will be paid by the seller on the buyer’s behalf. Paragraph 4.2 states that a credit will be given for these fees and the fees are “seller concessions.”
So I read the contract that these fees will be listed as a buyer credits so in essence the buyer does not pay these fees – the seller does.
However, I paid the fees.
I do hope you are using the services of a realtor. It is your realtor’s duty to review the contract and warn you of any “problems”. They are trained for that and since they review contracts often, they are far better suited for this than you. The questions you asked here absolutely should have been presented to your realtor, not a forum of people who can lie, misinform, guess, or intentionally mislead you. Remember, if something is overlooked and you sign a bad contract that ends up costing you extra money, you can easily go back on your realtor. If I misinform you, tough luck!
Seriously, if you are trying to buy a foreclosed house from this “off-shore” company, you need the services of a realtor or at the very least, a real estate lawyer. (and eventually a shrink ;-))
Been there……done that.
Thanks for the reply!
I did have a realtor and a loan agent, but both were unhelpful if not incompetant. I had to watchdog everything! They did not understand the contract and I had to explain parts of it to them!
Escrow closed, but I am thinking of pursuing the reimbursement of these fees, and wanted to get feedback from others as to their interpretation of that part of the contract. I am a paralegal and one of the attorneys in my office gave the contract a very quick look and he thinks I should not have paid the fees.
Just looking for info based on other people’s experience.
I dug up my “Sales Agreement” and it did have an entry for the Technology Fee and the Buyer’s Premium. The Tech Fee (line 2.14) was $299 and the Buyer’s Premium was $0 (line 2.15). The sales agreement did clearly state that these fees would be paid by the seller. On line 2.16 titled “Total Sellers Concessions” my contract added up to $299. I examined my closing documents and they did in fact pay this amount out of their pile.
Your “PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT” if it is the same as mine, Sec. 1.6 states:
1.6 Technology Fee, Buyer’s Premium.
Buyer acknowledges its obligation to pay to Hubzu the Technology Fee and Buyer’s Premium, as applicable and as shown in Sections 2.14 and 2.15 respectively. Buyer hereby authorizes Seller to pay these fees directly to Hubzu on Buyer’s behalf at Closing.
And just like your, my Sales Contract states in Sec. 4.2 that the Seller will pay the amounts listed there in 4.2.1, 4.2.2, and 4.2.3.
But my closing documents clearly show that the Seller did pay the amount listed here. Your realtor absolutely should have caught that if you paid it. I would think your realtor should first make an effort to collect these funds back from the Seller for you, since monitoring the closing is part of their job description. If they can’t get the funds refunded, they have an obligation to you, their client, to make you whole. This should come right out of their commission.
But be sure to review your closing papers to be sure you are correct and that those funds were not paid by the Seller before you go making demands on your realtor.
I’m curious, how much did they ding you for “Buyer’s Premium”? And did they explain what that charge was for?
And did you use their “Closing Agent” and Title Company? It saves you money if you allow them to name their own sister company as the Title Provider. But you loose some control if you let them choose.
BEE EMM ESS
Thanks so much for looking at your paperwork! I don’t have my contract and closing statement with me, but it appears to be the same language.
My fee was $3,945!!! ANd I paid it. I tried to get my realtor to understand that seller was to pay it, but she never came around and I just wanted to get the property closed. I also pointed it out to the ‘closing agent’ at Premium or Altisource and they said I was to pay the fee.
So I will be contacting the person I spoke to yesterday about another issue (they were holding $1,200 of my money after two months) and see how she responds. I will file a small claims action if I have to.
You’ve really helped!
And, yes, I used their agents because I thought that would save me money, but it didn’t. THey padded the charges so I paid as much, if not more, than if I used a competent company.
I don’t think it will do any good to talk to my ex-realtor, but maybe I’ll have an attorney at my office send a letter to her and her boss. Pursue it that way instead of thru the title/escrow company.
I just remembered something in my paperwork.
The Tech. Fee and Buyer’s Premium were added to the sales price of the house. The seller did pay these fees to Hubz. But since I did not receive a credit, like the contract states, in reality I did pay the fees.
If I would have received a credit, then I would not have paid the fees. How they accounted for it, the money was added to the purchase price and the seller paid that money from their proceeds. So I paid, not the seller.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m a Realtor and I’ve bought a number of homes for my buyers through Altisource. You have definitely explained the experience well. I have begged my buyer to never use Premium Title Services again, even if it does “save” money because they will cover the title insurance. Not worth the trouble.
We have been buying with Altisource since they were gohoming and again when they became hubzu. There was a definite change in their service at the changeover.
Also, the listing agent they give you is only a listing agent, s/he gets paid a fee to list the property on the MLS and put the signs on the property, but not to do anything else. Your best bet is to locate your Transaction Coordinator’s email address and to copy in their supervisor on every communication.
I can confirm, the process is tiresome, but they are a legitimate seller.
And those timed bids are the real deal. I have stayed up many a time past the timed bid fighting against another buyer to win the bid for my buyer. Plenty of other agents I know have used the site also, and I learned about it through a local investor that uses it, so there is definitely competition.