Buying a foreclosure or REO property in
What's an REO?
REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company now owns. This is not the same as 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. You must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property entirely as is. That possibly could consist of existing liens and even current denizens that need to be removed.
A REO, by contrast, is a much cleaner and attractive proposition. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will take care of 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. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects they are aware of.
Are REO's a bargain in Gatesville?
It is commonly presume that any REO must be a bargain and an possibility for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it soon, they are also strongly encouraged 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.
Time to make an offer?
Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with in 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. Before 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 almost always 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 withdraw 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. Once you've submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. Then it will be up to you to decide 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 unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.