Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company currently owns. This differs from 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. You must also be able to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property entirely as is. That could consist of existing liens and even current occupants that may require removal.

A REO, by contrast, is a much cleaner and attractive proposition. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The lender will handle the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are informed.

Is an REO in Salisbury a bargain?

It's occasionally believed that any REO must be a steal and an chance for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be very careful about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it fast, they are also strongly encouraged to get as much as they can for it. When pondering 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 may lose money.

Time to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with while 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 find out 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. Once you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. From there it will be your choice 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 not unusual for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.