Buying a REO or foreclosure in Bakersfield
What's an REO?
REO is short for Real Estate Owned. These are properties which have been through foreclosure which the bank or mortage company now holds. 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 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 standing liens and even current denizens that need to be removed.
A REO, on the contrary, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property did not find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will handle 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 instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to disclose any defects of which they are informed.
Are REO's a bargain in Bakersfield?
It's sometimes believed that any REO must be a bargain and an possibility for easy money. This isn't always true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is usually anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly interested 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. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.
Ready to make an offer?
Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with while buying a REO property from them. Typically 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 most commonly 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 terminate 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 respond with a counter offer. Then it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or submit another counter offer. Understand, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely involves a group of 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.