Buying a foreclosure or REO property in
What's an REO?
REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are homes which have been through foreclosure and are presently held 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. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll get the property entirely as is. That might consist of current liens and even current occupants that need to be put out.
A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will attend to the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange 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. For instance, in Calfornia, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are aware.
Are REO's a bargain in North Kingstown?
It is occasionally believed that any REO must be a good buy and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it quickly, 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 and selling foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.
Ready to make an offer?
Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Normally 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 regarding the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", you may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for unseen damage and terminate 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 submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that generally 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.