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Expert Advice on Buying a Foreclosed Home: An Interview with Nicholas Kanter of Lewitt Hackman

By Nicholas Kanter

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Lewitt Hackman is a full-service law firm for businesses and individuals, handling transactions, dispute resolution and litigation. We're a top-ranked law firm located in Encino, established in 1969. I primarily represent clients in real estate, franchise and intellectual property litigation.

Can you briefly describe the main ways that buying a foreclosed home is different than buying a typical home?

When making a home purchase the traditional way, you generally have an opportunity to thoroughly inspect the home and back out of the purchase if you are not satisfied with the physical condition. But for foreclosure sales, there is no official inspection period. You may or may not have a very limited opportunity to examine the foreclosure and decide whether or not to buy based on a cursory review of the property.

Sometimes it's not possible to view the physical condition of the home at all. Once you purchase the foreclosed home, you take the property subject to any and all physical defects that exist, and generally you cannot back out of the purchase even if you find serious problems.

What are some of the biggest challenges that prospective homeowners face when they want to buy a foreclosed home?

Your greatest challenges are the physical condition of the home and the status of occupants in the home after the foreclosure sale. As mentioned above, foreclosure buyers do not generally have opportunity to conduct thorough physical inspections. After purchasing foreclosed homes, buyers may be faced with unanticipated and expensive repairs that were not considered at the time of the sale.

Sometimes the foreclosed home is still occupied by the former owner. If the former owner does not willingly vacate the property, you will have to bring an unlawful detainer lawsuit before obtaining possession to the property. If the foreclosed home is occupied by a tenant, you may have to honor the tenant's lease until it expires.

What role does an attorney play in the process of buying foreclosed homes?

An attorney can help you both in the pre-foreclosure and post-foreclosure process. In pre-foreclosure, an attorney examines public records to determine whether the property will be subject to any liens after it is sold at foreclosure. The lawyer can also review court filings to determine whether the property may be embroiled in litigation after the sale. If the property is involved in litigation, you may not be able to sell the property until the matter is resolved. Post-foreclosure, an attorney can take steps to obtain possession of the property if it is still occupied after the sale.

Ideally, when should the buyer of a foreclosure consult with and/or hire a lawyer?

Protect your investment by calling a lawyer as soon as you locate a property you wish to purchase at a foreclosure sale.

Do you have any advice to help people in Southern California make buying a foreclosed home as smooth as possible?

Conduct as much due diligence as possible before purchasing a foreclosed property. In particular, examine the property's title, physical condition and status of occupants in the property.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

You can reach me via email: nkanter@lewitthackman.com, or call me directly: 818-907-3289.

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