Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO is short for Real Estate Owned. These are houses that have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company presently holds. 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll accept the property completely as is. That possibly may comprise existing liens and even current occupants that may require eviction.

A REO, on the other hand, is a more tidy and attractive transaction. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The lender will take care of the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally plan for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from typical disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to reveal any defects they are informed of.

Are REO's a bargain in Clearwater?

It is frequently believed that any REO must be a steal and an opportunity for easy money. This usually isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly interested 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 foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Time to make an offer?

Most lenders 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 discover as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks almost always 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 retract 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 counter offer. From there it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be contending with a process that most likely involves multiple 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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