Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. These are properties which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company presently holds. This differs from 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property totally as is. That possibly will include standing liens and even current occupants that may require eviction.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will handle the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally plan for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects they are informed of.

Is an REO in Auburn a bargain?

It is commonly though that any REO must be a steal and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't always 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 usually anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly motivated 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. 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 may lose money.

Ready to make an offer?

Most banks 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 concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks typically sell REO properties "as is", it's often prudent to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unseen 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. After you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that usually involves several people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's quite common for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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