Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO means Real Estate Owned. These are houses that have been through foreclosure and are presently held by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike a property up for foreclosure auction. If you buy a property during a foreclosure sale, you must pay at least the loan balance plus any interest and other fees accumulated during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll accept the property completely as is. That could consist of existing liens and even current residents that need to be thrown out.

A REO, on the other hand, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will see to the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally organize for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are aware of.

Is an REO in Oil City a bargain?

It is occasionally believed that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This usually isn't true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly encouraged to get as much as they can for it. When contemplating the value of a REO, you need to look closely at comparable sales in the neighborhood and be sure to take into account the time and cost of any repairs or remodeling needed to prepare the house for resale. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Usually the REO department will use a listing agent to get their REO properties listed on the local MLS. Prior to making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and learn as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks typically sell REO properties "as is", it may be in your best interest to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unknown damage and withdraw the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, you'll make your offer more attractive if you can include documentation of your ability to pay, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. Then it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Understand, you'll be working with a process that probably involves several people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not uncommon for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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