Buying a foreclosure or REO property in

What's an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are homes which have been foreclosed upon which the bank or mortage company presently possesses. This is not the same as 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. The buyer must also be willing to pay with cash in hand. And on top of all that, you'll get the property one-hundred percent as is. That possibly may comprise existing liens and even current occupants that need to be expelled.

A REO, conversely, is a much cleaner and attractive option. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. The bank now owns it. The lender will attend to the removal of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Do be aware that REOs may be exempt from standard disclosure requirements. For instance, in Calfornia, banks are not required to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that typically requires sellers to tell you about any defects they are informed of.

Is an REO in Tampa a bargain?

It's commonly assumed that any REO must be a good buy and an opportunity for easy money. This just isn't true. You have to be prudent about buying a REO if your intent is profit from the sell. While it's true that the bank is typically anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly interested 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. There are bargains with potential to make money, and many people do very well buying and selling foreclosures. But there are also many REO's that are not good buys and not likely to turn a profit.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with in 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. 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 about the condition of the property and what their process is for getting 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 hidden damage and withdraw 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 made your offer, you can expect the bank to respond with a counter offer. At this point it will be your decision whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Realize, you'll be working with a process that generally 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.