Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company currently possesses. This is not the same as a property up for foreclosure auction. When buying 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 able to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property completely as is. That possibly may consist of standing liens and even current residents that may require removal.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much cleaner and attractive deal. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The lender will deal with the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Is an REO in Oil City a bargain?

It is sometimes assumed that any REO must be a steal and an chance for easy money. This usually isn't true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is to make money off of it. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly interested to get as much as they can for it. When considering 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Time to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with when buying a REO property from them. Commonly 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 find out as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", you'll want to be sure and include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unknown damage and cancel the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, providing documentation of your ability to pay may make your offer more attractive, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be working with a process that usually involves multiple people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's not unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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