Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have been foreclosed upon and are currently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as 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 accumulated during the foreclosure process. You must also be prepared to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll receive the property entirely as is. That possibly may consist of current liens and even current denizens that need to be removed.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The lender will handle 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 normal disclosure requirements. In California, for example, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that usually requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are knowledgeable.

Is an REO in Valencia a bargain?

It's commonly assumed that any REO must be a good deal and an possibility for easy money. This isn't necessarily 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 typically anxious to sell it quickly, they are also strongly motivated 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying and selling 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 banks have a REO department that you'll work with when 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 find out as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting 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 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. After you've made your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Realize, you'll be working 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.

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