Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO is Real Estate Owned. These are properties that have gone through foreclosure which the bank or mortage company presently owns. This is unlike real estate 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be able to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll accept the property one-hundred percent as is. That might include existing liens and even current denizens that may require eviction.

A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive deal. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will attend to the removal 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. In California, for example, 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 Saint Cloud?

It's commonly assumed that any REO must be a steal and an chance for easy money. This usually 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 promptly, they are also strongly encouraged 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. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Prepared 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. 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 concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks usually sell REO properties "as is", you may want to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden 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 make a counter offer. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Be aware, you'll be working 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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