Nobody is ever "forced" to sign any papers (that is called signing under duress) and can make a contract unenforceable. Having said that, you definitely have a problem with your agent that you need to rectify. It sounds as if this agent is acting as a dual agent or transaction agent ( you can correct me if I am wrong) and is working both sides of the deal. This is a very risky process and one that puts you and the buyer in a situation where you MUST look out for yourself. Never expect a dual agent to act in your interest as they cannot. That is why most agents will not act as dual agents.Time to have a direct "heart to heart" talk with your agent and get this straightened out. If you already signed papers that allow an early close you may have to allow it or be in breach of the contract. Fortunately as a seller there is little they can do if you do not close or do not move. By the time they start eviction proceedings you will be long gone.Bottom line, straighten it out so everyone is on the same page. If you do not get satisfaction call your agents supervisor.
While I would also suggest an agent can help you with not only pricing but with other important aspects of the transaction you may be able to work through this with a little help from an attorney to write the contract, a reliable loan officer to help with the cost and an appraiser to help with the value. If you are unsure about the valuation, do not make any offers until you confirm the value. Any licensed appraiser can perform a pre-sale estimate for a few hundred dollars that should give you a comfort level going in to the deal. Of course, if you are going to finance your purchase the bank will require a FULL appraisal to confirm the valuation.Either way, never forget that the value is not based on what the seller wants but on what the market will support.
Capital gains taxes are calculated on the gain that you have realized while you have held the property. Gain is calculated by subtracting the tax basis (cost to acquire + cost to dispose + improvements - depreciation) from the gross sales price.Investment properties owned by foreign nationals are subject to FIRPTA rules. FIRPTA requires the buyer of any property purchased from a foreign national to withhold 10% of the purchase price (unless an exception applies). Most often this is handled by the closing agent. The 10% is delivered to the US Treasury and is held until the foreign national files a non-resident tax return to claim any excess. If the money is not claimed the 10% withholding is forfeited.Depending on the property and situation it may be worthwhile to hire a tax professional that understands FIRPTA rules. 10% may be far greater than any tax owed.
It is always preferred to find a local expert. Someone familiar with the market in the area that you want to buy will have the expertise you need to prevent you from making mistakes. Therein lies the problem, finding an expert in an area that you are not familiar with can be difficult. Your best option is to interview several agents. Ask them important questions like what will they do to help you, how much experience they have with investment properties and why a particular property is good for investment, etc. Once you talk with several agents you will begin to hear certain commonalities that are important. You will also be able to ascertain which agent(s) is telling the straight scoop and which one(s) is blowing smoke.Of course if you can get a referral from a friend that will be helpful.
Buying a pre-foreclosure requires at lot of investigation. First of all, just because it is a pre-foreclosure does not mean the seller wants to sell. If the seller is attempting to sell, why the seller is selling? Do they have a reasonable hardship that the lender will consider? Is the value of the home consistent with comparable homes in the neighborhood? What is the condition of the home (remember. it will be AS-IS)? What other debts does the seller have that could block a short sale? Are you prepared to wait for the seller to work out a settlement with their creditors (it could take months)? You really need to develop a profile to see if this property is a good candidate for purchase, not all pre-foreclosures are.The best advice has already been given. Find an agent that knows how to research and negotiate a sale of this type. It may be a good opportunity or a "pig in a poke".
Any improvements to a house are going to make it more sell able, but the question is how much? If the difference is a 600 sq ft deck vs no deck, yes some value may be there, but do not expect a lot. If it is a 600 sq ft vs a 500 sq ft deck maybe very little value. People make improvements to their home for their own pleasure. Improvements seldom yield a dollar for dollar increase in value.
You hit the nail on the head, the agent you hire is not your friend. But he/she can be your agent. Your agent can offer you advice, they can use they expertise to keep you from making a mistake and they can use their market knowledge to help you make the best deal possible. But they are not a substitute for good common sense. Buying or selling a home is likely to be the largest financial transaction you will make. Going it alone without help is a bad decision.
This whole thing is ridiculous. No offer can be legally binding without your signature.
The first question that came my mind is "Is it on sewer or septic?" Just because you got a bill does not mean it is actually connected to the sewer lines. But more importantly why would you buy a foreclosure home, with no history, and not have a thorough inspection. How could you even know what you were buying? What do you do for entertainment, play Russian Roulette?