Purchasing a distressed property

When looking for a home, you can come across too-good-to-be-true bargains at auctions or “distressed properties,” which are typically listed at a price significantly below the market. You should think twice before buying a property, despite how alluring it may seem. Instead, find out why the seller is trying to sell it quickly and whether it would actually be a wise and lucrative investment.

First and foremost, you must comprehend what distressed possessions or sales are.

What is a distressed property?

Banks are permitted to sell “repossessed” or distressed properties at auction to recoup their losses under the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002. These losses occur when a property owner doesn’t repay a loan. A property is classified as distressed when the bank seizes it for the purpose of selling it for less than market value. The banks reclaim the outstanding loan against the owner using the sale revenues of the property.

Distressed Property

Banks typically use an official advertisement specifying the auction date to solicit offers to purchase foreclosed homes. They consider all of the offers before choosing who to sell the property to.

Moreover, distressed sales take place when the seller urgently attempts to sell the property at a price below market value, typically to pay debts, cover medical costs, or handle other problems.

Developers who are hampered by unfavorable market changes, such as the implementation of escrow accounts under the Real Estate (Development and Regulation) Act of 2016, frequently sell troubled properties in bulk (RERA).

Homebuyers should carefully consider distressed properties or sales in order to make a secure investment because they frequently result in losses for the sellers.

Key features of distressed property

You must determine if you are engaging in a distressed sale prior to making the purchase decision. While making a decision regarding a property up for auction is simple, doing so for individual transactions is more difficult. So, you need to be aware of the essential characteristics that set distressed houses apart from others. A more cautious approach to the home-buying decision must be taken when two or more of these criteria are present.

Outstanding mortgages 

Failure to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage frequently results in the property becoming distressed. The bank then seizes the property to recoup the loan. In order to ensure that the

Concessional cost

The price of distressed properties is often at least 30% below market value. One key characteristic that sets distressed real estate apart from regular sales is this: Always ask the seller why they are willing to sell the property at a loss; this will reveal a lot about the condition of the property.

Required house improvements

Since distressed properties require high taxes and mortgage payments, they are typically a problem for the owner. The property is neglected, resulting in declining quality and integrity. You must be prepared to pay a hefty price for the upkeep and repairs of such a home.

Overdue taxes

Due to the owner’s severe financial difficulties, a distressed property may have some tax liens attached to it. A tax defaulter is also probably not financially stable enough to pay their mortgage. Thus, it is a good indication of a distressed sale since someone who is plagued with unpaid taxes would be more eager to sell quickly.

Once you’ve determined that the property is in distress, you can bargain with the seller better. Always be on the lookout for additional incentives and attempts to demonstrate the property’s value to you, as they may indicate the homeowners’ urgency to sell the property!

How to find a distressed property?

Distressed properties are easy to find if you know where to look. Here are some methods for finding distressed properties that are within your means and will sell for a profit if you decide to sell them later. 

Look for abandoned properties 

Look for homes in complete neglect if you’re specifically looking for distressed real estate. The bank’s foreclosure on the property is the most frequent cause of an owner giving up on maintenance. If this information proves accurate, you can anticipate that the owner will sell the property without engaging in lengthy negotiations or requesting that the bank hold an auction. 

Bank auctions 

Bank auctions of distressed or other foreclosed properties are typically publicized 30 days prior to the auction through an official advertisement in a newspaper or on the bank’s website. You must submit a sealed bid to the bank and a minimum reserve sum in order to submit a bid for the property. The bank holds the auction after the bid period closes and sells the property to the highest bidder. A few websites display the properties put up for auction by various banks in their capacity as aggregation portals. 

Sale before foreclosure 

Pre-foreclosure is similar to a grace period during which the lender warns the homeowner who has fallen behind on their payments to take action to save their home. State regulations decide the length of the grace period, which varies across the country. This is seen as a favorable time for the buyer to approach the property owner and make a reasonable offer to acquire the property. 

Hidden foreclosure sale 

These are newly constructed, expensive properties that have been put up for foreclosure due to a lack of advertising. They are unlikely to be found in any open newspaper listings or websites. Typically, real estate professionals knowledgeable about foreclosure sales are able to provide information on these exclusive listings. You might have just discovered a concealed foreclosure if a real estate agent shows you a brand-new property that was built a few years before the show date and has never been occupied. 

Check these documents before purchasing a distressed property

You must ensure that the ownership of the property is clearly established by looking at the documentation, given the danger involved with distressed properties. A risk-free investment is one that is devoid of monetary conflicts and legal difficulties, whether it involves distressed property or not. So, you must verify that these documents are in place whether you are acquiring from an individual or a bank in the case of an auction, regardless of who you are buying from.

Document checklist 

Title of the property 

Typically, a bank will confirm that the property titles are clear before holding an auction to sell the property. However, greater competition to sell off such properties could result in mistakes, particularly in houses still being built, when the developer might deviate from the approved plan. The documentation is even more crucial if you buy from a single vendor because there is a higher likelihood of fraud.

The sale deed

The buyer must obtain the original sale deed for the property, together with genuine receipts attesting to the transfer of the complete purchase price to the bank.

Timeline of possession

If the property is still being built, carefully check the delivery date and the associated fines in case the builder later fails to meet the deadline.

lease agreements

Checking the lease agreements and their expiration dates is essential when purchasing a pre-leased asset in order to evaluate its potential financial future.

Development sanctions

Check for encroachment, development authority approvals for structural development, and municipal authority essential power and water supply sanctions.

Certificate of Recovery

The bank running the auction needs to have a Recovery Certificate (RC) granted by the Department of Financial Services’ Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT). Banks and financial institutions are permitted to hold foreclosure auctions under the RC.

Asset reconstruction company

These organizations are experts at holding bank-sponsored auctions of foreclosed properties. Be sure these businesses are associated with a reputable public sector financial institution by checking their qualifications. One such private company that does out this is The Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd.

Pros and Cons 

Given their low capital prices, bank-repossessed distressed properties could seem like the perfect investment, but they also have a number of disadvantages. Undiscovered liabilities, such as unpaid fees or legal issues may hamper a good property deal. You must assess the advantages, disadvantages, risks, and opportunities of purchasing distressed property before making a decision.


  • Due to the owner’s typically high level of urgency to sell the property, distressed property prices are typically low. Price negotiations will typically result in the buyer winning when dealing with a hasty seller.
  • While there is no such certainty in real estate, distressed properties do have some value as investments. On the other hand, the most recent government reforms may make purchasing a foreclosed property profitable in the near future.
  • If you keep up with bank auction listings, you may be able to purchase a home in a desirable neighborhood.


  • Liabilities like delinquent taxes may be associated with distressed properties. The bank takes these factors into account when determining the base auction price for property purchased pursuant to the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act of 2002.
  • When they anticipate losing their property to the bank, the owners of these properties frequently cease maintaining them. A home needing repair could need the new owner to spend a lot of money.
  • Negative returns on your investment are not always guaranteed with distressed homes. Such a property’s price will not be able to increase by a significant amount if the market does not drastically improve.

There are plenty of competing interests and profitable opportunities in distressed properties. The following list of dangers associated with purchasing foreclosed homes includes some benefits as well:




In the real estate market, distressed homes make up a very small percentage and are typically very difficult to find.

However, distressed properties are typically offered at bargain prices.

You might have to go over your budget to hire a real estate expert specializing in distressed properties.

Buying a property in a desirable area could increase its resale value. 

Since it is impossible to predict the highest bid in an auction, your budget might prevent you from placing a high enough bid.

Reputable banks conduct the auctions, so there is no risk of the builder failing to deliver.

You might run into trouble if the property’s original owner sues you and the bank.

You are free to forego seeking legal counsel in this matter because it is unlikely that a bank would not have performed adequate checks on the property before the auction.

Advice on purchasing a distressed property

If affordability is important to you in achieving your real estate dreams, distressed houses are a good choice. The majority of the time, banks that seize these properties want to clear them off their list of liabilities as soon as possible. As a result, many properties can be purchased for far less than their market value. With these deals, you may secure some prime properties with a well-rounded arsenal of effective strategies. You could utilize some of these:

Find a skilled agent

Many issues are peculiar to distressed real estate. Therefore, hiring a real estate agent or property consultant with experience managing such properties is advised. For prospective real estate agents or those already working in the field who desire to specialize, the National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) offers certification courses. If an agent has this accreditation, consulting with them regarding distressed properties is a good idea.

Avoid clusters of distressed homes

It might be wise to invest the proper amount of repair and upkeep work into a distressed home that you purchase for a pittance. Yet, if the house you purchase is situated in a neighborhood with little to no market traction, all of these efforts will be for nothing. Frequently, distressed homes from the same neighborhood are auctioned off together. Make sure not to participate in such a trade.

Professional home inspection

In contrast to a typical home sale, the seller of a distressed property does not work on the property’s damage repair. Enlisting the assistance of a home inspection organization can give you a decent sense of the kind of repairs that need to be made and how much money you might need to spend on them. The House Inspection Association of India (HIA) website can help you check the credibility of any home inspection business you want to hire.

Understand the law

The Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, regulates the sale of foreclosed property, including distressed properties. To properly understand the bank’s process for selling the house, you must be knowledgeable of every part of this Act and the Security Interest (Enforcement) Regulations, 2002. In the scenario where a person sells the property on their own, you need to exercise extra caution regarding these rules.

Make a high down payment 

Before deciding to purchase a foreclosed property, you must ensure your finances are in good condition. A large down payment on a home conveys your seriousness regarding the purchase to the seller. 20–25 percent of the home’s asking price should be used as the down payment.

Good negotiating skills

As the buyer, you do have some negotiating power in cost negotiations with the bank, lender, or seller of a distressed home. You can request an appraisal of the property from the lender. If the price determined following the appraisal is less than the market price, you can attempt to convince the bank to accept a lower offer.

legal issues

The former owner may attempt to delay the sale by suing the bank when the bank is prepared to sell the distressed property. If the matter goes to court as you are about to buy the house, you can find yourself paying a hefty sum for legal advice. Dealing directly with the owner is therefore advised because there won’t be a third party with a stake in the sale attempting to sue the seller.

Competitive bidding

Set a limit for yourself while competing for foreclosure while taking your budget, the number of additional charges, and the type of financing you want to stick with into consideration. The fact that the bank selling the property won’t finance it is a crucial factor to take into account here. You must, therefore, prepare your selections in advance. You should constantly be mindful of two things: first, the bank is not emotionally linked to the property and does not have unreasonable expectations about the price. The institute also loses money each day, and the property is on hold.

Follow and Connect with us: TwitterFacebookLinkedinInstagram