Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What is an REO?

REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are houses which have gone through foreclosure and are currently owned by the bank or mortgage company. This is not the same as a property 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 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 may include existing liens and even current residents that need to be thrown out.

A REO, on the contrary, is a much cleaner and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The lender now owns it. The lender will handle the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally arrange for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects they are knowledgeable of.

Are REO's a bargain in Bakersfield?

It is sometimes assumed that any REO must be a good deal and an chance for easy money. This isn't necessarily true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is make a profit. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it promptly, 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 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 lenders have a REO department that you'll work with in buying a REO property from them. Normally 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for accepting offers. Since banks usually 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 unseen damage and terminate 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 submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. Then it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that usually involves multiple people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's typical for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks.

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