Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company now holds. This differs from 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 added during the foreclosure process. You must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll get the property completely as is. That might consist of standing liens and even current tenants that may require expulsion.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive proposition. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the lender owns it. The bank 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. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, 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 Orlando a bargain?

It is sometimes believed that any REO must be a good buy and an possibility for easy money. This simply isn't 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 often anxious to sell it soon, 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. 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 may lose money.

Ready to make an offer?

Most banks 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. Before 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 getting offers. Since banks typically 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 withdraw the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, your offer may be more attractive if you can include documentation of your ability to pay, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. Once you've made 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 generally involves several 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.