Buying a REO or foreclosure in Auburn
What's an REO?
REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses that have gone through foreclosure and are presently held by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as 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 added during the foreclosure process. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll receive the property entirely as is. That may comprise prevailing liens and even current occupants that may require removal.
A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The bank will attend to the elimination 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 typical disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects they are knowledgeable of.
Are REO's a bargain in Auburn?
It's commonly assumed that any REO must be a good buy and an chance for easy money. This simply isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it soon, they are also strongly motivated 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.
All set to make an offer?
Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with in 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 learn as much as you can about what they know regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for getting offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", it may be in your best interest 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 make a counter offer. At this point it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Be aware, 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 not unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.