- Typically, houses end up on the property auction block as a result of the owner failing to pay their mortgage, property tax, income tax..
We’ve all heard of the grisly tale of an unfortunate buyer who found a body, chopped into 11 pieces and stashed into a refrigerator in a Mont Kiara condominium unit he had purchased at an auction.
Unfortunately, while there are various benefits that can be gained from buying property at auctions – with the most obvious being the prices are fairly cheaper than buying direct (for certain cases) from developers and homeowners – these benefits often come with huge risks too.
Typically, houses end up on the property auction block as a result of the owner failing to pay their mortgage, property tax, income tax or other obligations that come from owning a house. Homes could also be seized by the government due to illegal activity or are simply just abandoned.
Of course, not all auction purchases turn into real-life horror stories. Here are some risks and pitfalls that you should avoid at all cost when you are walking up the auction lane.
1.Losing your depositThere are two types of auction for foreclosed properties in Malaysia: Loan Agreement Cum Assignment (LACA) auction, which is done by banks for properties without an individual or strata title; and non-LACA auction, which is done through High Court for properties with an individual or strata title.
A LACA property requires a 5% deposit to the auctioneer, while a non-LACA property requires 10% of the reserved price.
The balance purchase price of a LACA property is normally settled within 90 days after a successful bid, while a non-LACA property allows you to settle the balance within 120 days.
Before you consider buying an auctioned property, ensure that you have enough cash allocated to pay the balance purchase price. This helps to prevent your deposit being forfeited due to late payment caused by any possible reason.
2.Making a bad investmentObviously, property prices and rental yields vary due to various factors. Some of the properties being auctioned off go for as low as RM40,000 – that’s cheaper than the price of some second-hand cars!
However, just because it is cheap doesn’t mean it will make a good investment. Like any property investment, you need to consider all the factors, depending on whether you are buying for your own occupation, as an investor, or as a speculator. If you make the mistake of buying a house at a shoddy location, the price may remain the same for a long time.
Also, no one is likely to want to buy the property from you until years and years later, so you may end up making a loss in the long run.
3.Trouble evicting previous occupantsUnfortunately, an auctioned property does not always come with vacant possession, so if there are people occupying the property, it is your job to get them out after you successfully bid for the property.
According to Malaysian law, to legally evict occupants out of a property, you must first be the owner of the property. Once you are officially the owner, you can apply to distress the occupants through a lawyer before you apply for a court order. It could take up to four weeks to process a distress order and cost you from RM1,500 to RM2,000.
Of course, the best way to get the occupants to move is to first speak to them. This can be a difficult process – the occupants might not be in, be reluctant to meet you, and might even refuse to open the door. Some have even been known to damage the interior before leaving.
Before you purchase an auctioned property, always find out if it is occupied, and if it is, whether they are the previous owners or tenants. Tenants are usually agreeable to extending their tenancy if rental remains the same. However, you may run into trouble if the occupants are disgruntled previous owners.
4.Footing heavy outstanding billsSome auctioned property buyers get a rude shock when they discover that they have to pay for various outstanding bills, including water, electric, maintenance, quit rent and even assessment taxes that have not been settled previously.
The cost may run into tens of thousands and throw you off your initial budget. Normally, you will need to pay all the outstanding bills after you have successfully bid for the property and submitted the necessary paperwork through your lawyer.
Before the auction date, go to the relevant utility offices, such as Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Syabas, property management office, with a copy of the Proclamation of Sale (POS) to check on the outstanding bills. This is so you can calculate the real cost involved and decide if it will be a worthwhile purchase.
If there are outstanding bills, add everything up and you have will have an idea of the maximum auction price you should be willing to go for.
5.Paying for costly repair worksAlways take into consideration the condition of the property you are bidding for. A property that is badly-maintained and is riddled with damages can rake up significant repair costs.
This could result in a potentially vast difference in your overall expenditure, so you would do well to inspect the property first to get an accurate costing.
Before the auction date, pay a visit to the unit. Though you may not be able to view the interior, just looking from the outside can give you an idea of the condition of the property.
6. Buying a property with limitationsAnother risk that can cause you trouble when it comes to buying auctioned properties are the caveats that may be in place for the property, or the status of the title.Certain properties are allocated as Bumiputera lots, and you may not be able to transfer the property to your name if you are not a Bumiputera. There are also some properties with caveats in place.
Caveat is legal notice to stop or suspend a property sale. For example, if the auctioned property is co-owned by two individuals, one of the owners may put a caveat on the property to stop the other owner from selling the property. Another scenario could be the previous owner may have dealings with money lender, and they agreed into a private caveat to use the property as collateral.
To avoid running into trouble after you have successfully bid for a property, cover all bases.
If you are keen in trying to acquire a bargain property at auction, paying attention to the aforementioned details will provide an accurate picture of the true costs and true value of the property until you’ve become the new owner.
Adequate investigation on the buyer’s part will reduce some of the risks associated with buying auctioned properties and ensure you are making a sound investment choice.