Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO means Real Estate Owned. These are homes which have gone through foreclosure and are presently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike real estate 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. You must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property completely as is. That might comprise current liens and even current tenants that may require removal.

A REO, by contrast, is a much cleaner and attractive transaction. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will take care of the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice 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 typically requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are aware.

Is an REO in Oil City a bargain?

It's sometimes though that any REO must be a good deal and an chance for easy money. This simply isn't true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it soon, they are also strongly encouraged to get as much as they can for it. When pondering 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 buying foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with when 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 regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", you may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden damage and cancel the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, your offer may be more attractive if you can include documentation of your ability to pay, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. After you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. Then it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be contending with a process that generally 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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