Buying a REO or foreclosure in Orlando

What is an REO?

REO is an abbreviation for Real Estate Owned. These are houses which have gone through foreclosure and are currently possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This differs from 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 amassed during the foreclosure process. You must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. Finally, you'll receive the property totally as is. That may include prevailing liens and even current occupants that need to be put out.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive option. The REO property didn't 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 plan for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Note that REOs may be exempt from typical 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 aware.

Is an REO in Orlando a bargain?

It is frequently believed that any REO must be a bargain and an opportunity for easy money. This isn't always 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 soon, 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. It is possible to find REOs with money-making potential, and many people do very well flipping foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Ready to make an offer?

Most lenders have a REO department that you'll work with while buying a REO property from them. Commonly 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 discover as much as you can about what they know concerning the condition of the property and what their process is for receiving 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 unseen damage and retract 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 submitted your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. Then it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Be aware, you'll be dealing with a process that most likely 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.