Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO is short for Real Estate Owned. These are homes that have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company now possesses. This differs from 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property completely as is. That possibly may include prevailing liens and even current occupants that need to be thrown out.

A REO, conversely, is a more tidy and attractive transaction. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will deal with the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally organize for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are aware.

Is an REO in Auburn a bargain?

It's sometimes believed that any REO must be a good buy and an chance for easy money. This just isn't true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is to make money off of it. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly interested 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying 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 when buying a REO property from them. Typically 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 discover 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 typically 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 retract 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. After you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be working with a process that most likely 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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