Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes that have completed the foreclosure process and are presently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is unlike 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll get the property completely as is. That might include standing liens and even current tenants that need to be kicked out.

A REO, on the other hand, is a much neater and attractive deal. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will deal with the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally organize for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Are REO's a bargain in Muskogee?

It's occasionally though 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 profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is often 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Time to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies 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. 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 accepting offers. Since banks typically sell REO properties "as is", it's often prudent 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, you'll make your offer 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 respond with a counter offer. From there it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that generally involves multiple 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.