Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO is short for Real Estate Owned. These are houses which have completed the foreclosure process and are presently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is different than 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 added during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll receive the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly will consist of existing liens and even current residents that need to be kicked out.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The bank will handle 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. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to disclose any defects of which they are informed.

Is an REO in Bucklin a bargain?

It is commonly though that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly interested 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well buying and selling foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with when 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. 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 receiving 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 retract 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 made your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. Then it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Understand, you'll be contending with a process that most likely 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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