Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses that have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company currently holds. This is different than real estate 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. Finally, you'll receive the property entirely as is. That might consist of standing liens and even current residents that need to be kicked out.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The bank will see to 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. Note that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to disclose any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Is an REO in Oil City a bargain?

It's frequently assumed that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. 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 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. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

All set to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with while 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. Before 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks most commonly sell REO properties "as is", you may want 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. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be contending with a process that probably involves a group of people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's typical for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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