Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are properties that have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company presently owns. This is different than a property 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll get the property totally as is. That could consist of standing liens and even current occupants that need to be removed.

A REO, by contrast, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will see to 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 typical disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are aware.

Are REO's a bargain in Cornelius?

It is occasionally though that any REO must be a good deal and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be very careful 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 fast, they are also strongly motivated 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

All set to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with while 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. 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 taking offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", it may be in your best interest to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden damage and cancel 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 presented your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. Then it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be contending with a process that generally 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.

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