Buying a REO or foreclosure in Tampa

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes that have been through foreclosure and are now possessed by the bank or mortgage company. This is different than real estate 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 accrued during the foreclosure process. The buyer must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll get the property entirely as is. That possibly will consist of existing liens and even current tenants that need to be expelled.

A REO, on the other hand, is a more tidy and attractive option. The REO property was unable to find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank 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. You should be aware that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are exempt from giving a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that ordinarily requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are knowledgeable.

Is an REO in Tampa a bargain?

It is commonly assumed that any REO must be a steal and an possibility for easy money. This usually isn't 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 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. However there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may lose money.

Time to make an offer?

Most banks have a REO department that you'll work with in 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. 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 regarding 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 unknown damage and retract 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. Once you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to counter offer. From there it will be your choice whether to accept their counter, or offer a counter to the counter offer. Understand, you'll be contending with a process that most likely involves multiple 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.