Q: I am in fear of buying a foreclosure because I do not want to make a mistake.

There are 2 properties I have my eye on. One is selling for $365,000 and I want to offer $295,000 and stipulate that the bank pay for all closing costs and fees.

The second property is listed for $310,000 as a short sale. I want to offer $275,000 and request that the bank pay all the closing costs. Both properties are in gated communities with houses around it in the price range from $400,000 to $500,000. Are my offers too low?

A: I’m not sure what your question is. You can offer whatever you want, but the bank (in either case) may decide not to take it. With regard to the short sale, you might not find out for months if your offer will be accepted. You may find out that the offer is accepted only to find out that the lender won’t approve the short sale unless you pay more for the home or you pay not only your closing costs but the closing costs of the seller as well.

I’m not suggesting that you’re not offering the right price or getting a great deal. You just want to be sure that you decide what you want to pay and don’t get drawn into a lengthy negotiation with the bank on the fees that could add tens of thousands to the cost of your home in fees (or perhaps not even giving you a price until the end, on the day you close.

Some buyers in different areas may find that homes that have been foreclosed on and are owned by a bank are easier to buy than homes in which the owner is trying to sell the home but needs the approval of the bank to allow the short sale.

In a short sale the owner does not have the full amount of money from the sale to pay off the debts on the home and is therefore short of funds. Some lenders have become hesitant to approve short sales, even though they receive a fee from the federal government for every short sale that closes. In addition, a short sale the process can take months while in a home that has been foreclosed, the bank can make the deal rather quickly.

One final thought – be sure hire your own real estate attorney to help you with the paperwork for the deal. You’ll want to be sure you’re protected from hidden liens and other expenses that could crop up.