Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO stands for Real Estate Owned. These are properties which have completed the foreclosure process and are currently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is different than real estate up for foreclosure auction. When buying 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 prepared to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property entirely as is. That may comprise standing liens and even current denizens that need to be put out.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much neater and attractive transaction. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The bank will see 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 standard disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Are REO's a bargain in Rice Lake?

It's occasionally though that any REO must be a good buy and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be cautious 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 encouraged 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 foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Ready 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. 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for getting offers. Since banks most commonly sell REO properties "as is", you'll want to be sure and 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. At this point it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Be aware, you'll be working with a process that usually involves a group of 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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