Would You Buy Your Home on Ebay?

By: Rob Muller

The National Auctioneers Association says real estate auctions are the fastest growing auction type right now with annual sales rising at least $2.2 billion in the past year. That's a total of $58.5 billion in real estate sales for 2007 alone. Fueled by a rise in foreclosures, it looks like this market is just heating up. Currently the statistics say that people will drive up to 1.3 hours to attend auctions of interest and 75% of them bring the whole family. But what happens when you mash the trend to buy and sell homes at auction with the Internet?

A quick search for online real estate auctions pulls up dozens of sites that cater to buyers and sellers reaching out to a worldwide audience. Now people can attend auctions anywhere from the comfort of their homes. You've got eBay, RealtyBid, Bid4Assets, even the US government in on the action. But what are we looking at here? Is this the peanut butter in the chocolate or just another online novelty? Well, according to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, 45 percent of all Internet fraud involved online auctions in 2007. But you wouldn't shell out several tens of thousands of dollar with out checking into a few things first would you?

Many of the difficulties that arise with buying homes in online auctions are the same as those with buying at regular auctions. Homes that are in foreclosure are often not available for inspection and buying them amounts to a bit of a gamble. There's no guarantee when you open the door and walk into your new bargain, the ceiling won't leak or the floor won't cave in. Knowing how much money you'll need to make the home livable can be pure guesswork. The home could also have deed and title problems that turn a good deal into a bad one after you've made your purchase. If you're not familiar with the neighborhood or area, you have no way of knowing what the area is like or what homes are priced at in the neighborhood and there could be widespread issues related to that location. So buyer beware. In cases where the home or property is in a rural or remote area, there may not even be a road to get to it! Do your homework - what looks like a great deal on the Internet, might be a money pit in RL.

Having a real estate agent on your side can make all the difference. Agents that are familiar with houses that have recently sold in the area will be able to give you a clearer picture of the home's value and what to expect when you open the door. Specialized knowledge like the history of the neighborhood, the age of the building and the types of problems encountered by other homeowners in the area can arm you before you bid. A real estate agent can also help you sort out the paperwork in advance and put you in touch with other professionals so you avoid as many surprises as possible.

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