Buying a foreclosure or REO property in
What is an REO?
REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are houses that have been foreclosed upon and are presently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This differs from a property 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll get the property completely as is. That could comprise existing liens and even current residents that may require removal.
A REO, conversely, is a more tidy and attractive proposition. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank will deal with the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note 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 ordinarily requires sellers to tell you about any defects of which they are aware.
Is an REO in Murfreesboro a bargain?
It is frequently presume that any REO must be a good deal and an opportunity for easy money. This just isn't 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 often anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly interested 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.
Ready to make an offer?
Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with in 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. Prior to 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 accepting offers. Since banks typically 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 unknown damage and cancel 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 presented your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Understand, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely involves several people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's typical for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.